Amy Yang holed a pitching wedge for eagle on the par-4 11th hole and stretched her lead to three strokes Friday in the hot, humid and stormy Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
The 27-year-old South Korean player had a 2-under 69 at TPC Kuala Lumpur, a day after shooting 63 to miss her own course record by a stroke. She parred the first 10, then hit the approach that landed on the front of the green, hopped and rolled in.
“It was about 125 yards, like helping downwind,” Yang said. “I hit my pitching wedge, just full pitching wedge to the pin, and it came off really solid off the face.”
Anna Nordqvist, Mi Jung Hur and Candie Kung were tied for second after the round that was delayed about two hours because of lightning — accompanied by periods of heavy rain — with the last group in the 16th fairway.
Nordqvist had a 68, and Hur and Kung each shot 65 to match the best rounds of the day.
They’re playing TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East Course, a week after Justin Thomas successfully defended his title on the West Course in the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic.
“There were some tough pin placements out there, a lot tougher than yesterday,” Kung said. “Yesterday, I didn’t make any putts at all. But today, luckily, they all went in.”
Yang made her first bogey of the week after hitting into the water on the par-4 14th.
“Golf can be really easy like yesterday, but it can be also a little slow like today,” Yang said. “I’m just going to be patient, do my best.”
She returned from the delay — and lunch — to hole a 20-footer for birdie on the par-5 16th.
“I was getting a little frustrated about not making putts and I was getting hungry, so I went back, ate lunch,” Yang said. “It actually gave me some time to think about what was going on and think about the next three, how to finish, so it helped.”
Both of her LPGA Tour victories have come in Asia, the first in 2013 in South Korea and the second last year in Thailand. She has five top three-finishes this season.
Michelle Wie hung around, while Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson staggered in.
Wie followed her opening 66 with a 70 to drop four strokes behind. Winless in 57 tournaments since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, she’s coming off a season-best 10th-place tie last week in China. Ha Na Jang (67), Azahara Munoz (70), Jenny Shin (70) and 2014 winner Shanshan Feng (70) joined Wie at 6 under.
The top-ranked Ko closed bogey-double bogey for a 71, leaving her eight strokes back in her first tournament since firing caddie Jason Hamilton. She finished on No. 9 before the storm hit.
“Obviously, that’s not that great to end with a bogey and double on the last two holes,” Ko said. “But overall, I think I played more solid today compared to yesterday.”
Malaysia’s Sargunan Suntharaj is carrying the 19-year-old New Zealander’s clubs.
“It’s been going good,” Ko said. “He’s got a lot of experience. We’ve been having a lot of fun out there and he’s been trying to keep me cool out here in the heat, which is a pretty big role.”
Hamilton shifted to Jang, the Taiwan winner three weeks ago for her third victory of the year.
Henderson had an even worse finish than Ko, making a triple bogey on the par-3 17th and a double bogey on the par-5 18th for a 79 — matching her worst tour round as a professional.
Playing for the fifth straight week in Asia, the 19-year-old Canadian was 7 over. She’s skipping the Asia finale next week in Japan, then will finish the season the following two weeks in Mexico and Florida.
Nordqvist was on the 18th green when play was suspended, forcing the Swede, Brittany Lincicome and Karine Icher to wait.
“Disappointed that we couldn’t finish,” Nordqvist said. “Brittany was about to tap-in her foot-and-a-halfer and I was going to putt my 50-footer at the last. A little disappointed that we had to stick around, but, overall, it’s a pretty solid day.”
Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn was 1 over after a birdie-free 75. She has a tour-high five victories — one more than Ko — and leads the money list and the Race to CME Globe and player of the year standings.
Stacy Lewis failed to make a birdie in a 72 to drop to even par in her first event since mid-September.
Defending champion Jessica Korda was 3 under after a 68. She was second Sunday in China, a stroke behind Minjee Lee.