November 4, 2017 / 7:13 AM / 9 months ago

Golf-Feng grabs sole lead in Japan Classic title defence

Nov 4 (Reuters) - Shanshan Feng put herself in a prime position for a successful title defence at the LPGA’s TOTO Japan Classic after grabbing the sole lead with a stellar second round of nine-under-par 63 on Saturday.

The Chinese came into the tournament with top-seven finishes in the five of her last six starts and, wielding a hot putter, continued that imperious form to lead Japan’s Ai Suzuki by two shots after a bogey-free second round.

Feng was part of a seven-way tie at the top after the opening round in Ibaraki and the 28-year-old broke loose early on Saturday, birdying five of her opening seven holes in a spectacular front nine.

“I did not use my 5-iron much today. I think what was working was my putting today,” Feng said of her scintillating front nine.

“The first three holes, those birdies were not very short,” she smiled. “After that, I just kept that good putting going on and finished nine-under.”

The Rio Olympics bronze medallist eagled the par-five 12th and picked up two more shots in her spotless round to move to 15-under for the tournament.

Overnight joint leader Suzuki made a slow start but had a spectacular back nine - picking up six shots in a seven-hole burst - to card a 65 and stay three shots clear of England’s Charley Hull (64) and Min-Young Lee of South Korea (68).

Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, who has won twice on the LPGA Tour this year, was a further shot behind in a share of fifth after shooting a 68. (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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