Lydia Ko, a much-touted 14-year-old from New Zealand, was quickly ascending the U.S. Women’s Amateur leaderboard in her second round of play at Rhode Island Country Club.
Ko, No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, was 5-under through 15 holes Tuesday and 6-under overall to take a one-stroke lead over Moriya Jutanugarn and Jihee Kim. Ko followed a bogey on the par-4 third hole with three consecutive birdies on four, five, and six. She began her day on the 10th hole.
In earlier action, Jutanugarn fired a second-round 4-under 67 to take the lead in the clubhouse. Jutanugarn followed an opening 70 with flawless play on Tuesday to share top honors with with first-round leader Jihee Kim.
Kim notched eight birdies on opening day, which led to her 5-under 66 in a rain-delayed first round of stroke-play qualifying at the USGA tournament. Kim finished her first round with a two-shot lead over 15-year-old Xi Yu Lan and Mariel Galfiano, 13. The 17-year-old who plans to join the Korean LPGA Tour in September canned a 25-foot birdie putt on 18 to finish her stellar opening round.
“I am very proud to play in one of the most historic tournaments, 111 years old,” Kim told reporters through an interpreter. “Everything is perfect.”
The field of 156 golfers is a virtual worldwide who’s who of women’s amateur golf. Players from 33 states and 15 countries began their week Monday with the first of two days of stroke play to determine the low 64 who will make it to match play after Tuesday.
Defending champ Danielle Kang, who also plans to turn pro after this week’s tilt, was at 2-over and tied for 31st after two rounds of play.
Brittany Altomare, from Shrewsbury, Mass., shot an opening 76, while Alexa Rancourt from South Portland, Maine, started out with a 77.
All three players will take the field for their second rounds this afternoon.
(Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. Check her out on the Waggle Room, Boston Golf Examiner, National Golf Examiner, and GottaGoGolf websites. You may also follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer.)