Minji Lee and Nasa Hataoka take charge in Arkansas

Minjee Lee and Nasa Hataoka soared into the lead, flying on a 64. Aditi Ashok slipped down the order after posting a 76 in the second round.

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Nasa Hataoka in the Arkansas Championship

LPGA – June 24, 2018: Minjee Lee and Nasa Hataoka each posted 64s on Friday and 65s on Saturday to share the 36-hole lead at the Arkansas Championship, which is a 54-hole event. They lead at 13-under and are two shots clear of Lexi Thompson, who carded a 7-under, 64 on Saturday.

Aditi Ashok suffers a disappointing 76

Aditi Ashok was distinctly off colour in the second round. The Indian was well in contention after a first round 64, but Saturday saw Aditi struggle through the day.

The 75th ranked Indian endured six bogeys – three on either stretch – as she stumbled to a five over 76 in the second round.

In the end that was just enough to survive the cut, right on the edge of the blade. The cut fell at 2-under 140, which is Aditi’s 36 hole score.

Lee made seven birdies and one bogey on Saturday while Hataoka was bogey-free. They have each made just one bogey through 36 holes.

Lee, 22, will aim for her second win of the season while Hataoka, 19, is looking for her first career win.

Lee’s confidence is beaming with six top 10s this year. She ranks fourth on the Race to the CME Globe.

“I’ve been hitting it pretty well and putting it pretty well coming into this event and obviously into next week (KPMG Women’s PGA Championship) as well,” said Lee. “I think I have pretty good confidence going into next week and tomorrow as well.”

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier are in a tie for fourth at 10-under.

Lexi

Lexi and Ariya with Chance at Rolex No. 1

Lexi Thompson moved from T30 to third and Ariya Jutanugarn jumped from T15 to a tie for fourth with stellar rounds. Thompson, at No. 3 in the world, and Jutanugarn, at No. 2 in the world, are both in position to snatch the No. 1 world ranking.

Thompson’s 64 was even more impressive than it looks when you consider the course. She only hits three to four drivers and really has to rely on her 3-wood.

“Yeah this golf course is a little different of a setup for me, I only get to hit really three drivers, maybe four, so it’s a lot of 3-woods, a lot of hybrids,” explained Thompson. “But the course is in great shape for us. It’s just all about placement, just get in the fairway. I had a slow start yesterday, but then really picked up on the back nine and I just kind of took that into today.”

Thompson made just one birdie over her first nine holes. She’s made 11 birdies over her last 27 holes.

Jutanugarn has a bit more realistic of a chance to take No. 1. If Ariya wins and Inbee Park, the current No. 1, finishes fourth or worse, Ariya will go to No. 1 in the world. If Ariya finishes second and Inbee finishes 19th or worse she would also go to No. 1.

For Thompson, she must win and Inbee has to finish 21st or worse and Ariya must finish third or worse.

Celine

2017 Symetra Tour Graduate Boutier Chance at First Top 10

Celine Boutier won twice on the Symetra Tour in 2017 and finished third on the money list. She had ski-high expectations and those didn’t fade after she won on the Ladies European Tour near the end of 2017.

However, she struggled early on the LPGA, missing the cut in her first four starts.

Things are starting to turn around as she has made five of the last six cuts and heads into the final round in a tie for fourth at 10-under after back-to-back 66s.

“I’m just getting used to traveling and being on Tour,” explained Boutier. “I feel like I’ve been playing new courses all year, so it has been a learning process. I just really like the course this week, I feel like it’s fitting my game very well, so it’s been going well. Hopefully, tomorrow will be on the same line.”

Even though she went without a paycheck until the second week of April, Boutier is up to 82nd on the LPGA money list and has a chance for a big payday on Sunday.

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