(Reuters) – Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko are set for a final round showdown at the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship after finishing atop the leaderboard at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course on Friday.
First-round leader Thompson fired a six-under 66 in the shadow of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but was chased down by twice major champion Ko, who shot a 64.
The pair were on a 15-under total of 129 in the three-round event which finishes Saturday to give players more time to prepare for next week’s Evian Championship in France, the season’s final major.
They held a one-stroke lead over Taiwan’s Candie Kung, who also shot a 64 and was three strokes clear of South African Ashleigh Buhai. “I’m never going to complain with a six-under-par round, but I didn’t really focus on anybody else like Lydia,” said Thompson, who went bogey-free and is looking for a second victory of 2017.
“I know she played great today, but I was just trying to go out with the same mindset I did yesterday and make sure I did my routine and commit to my golf shots.”
Ko, who was world number one for 85 consecutive weeks before ceding the ranking in June, caught fire on the front nine where she made five straight birdies.
The 20-year-old New Zealander appears on the verge of ending a prolonged slump which has seen her without a victory since her Marathon Classic win in July, 2016.
“I felt like there were a lot of positives and a lot of good things going on but I just couldn’t put it all together,” said Ko of her form struggles.
“This week, the last couple of days, I’ve been able to hit it pretty good and make some good putts and that’s what I’ve kind of been lacking the last few months.”
Americans Cristie Kerr and Amy Olson are tied in fifth place on 10-under, five behind the leaders.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Ian Ransom)