Minjee Lee shot an 8-under-par 64 and Cheyenne Knight posted a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for the lead at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open on Friday in Jersey City, N.J.
Lee, an Australian ranked No. 5 in the world, and Knight were at 7-under 137, a stroke ahead of world No. 3 Lydia Ko of New Zealand. Ko finished her second straight 69 to get to 6 under at Liberty National Golf Club.
A fascinating collection of players was another stroke back at 5 under, tied for fourth: world No. 1 Jin Young Ko of South Korea (second-round 66), world No. 6 Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand (71), world No. 8 Brooke M. Henderson of Canada (70), Aditi Ashok of India (72) and Rose Zhang (69).
Zhang was the top-ranked amateur in women's golf until she turned pro last week. This tournament is her pro debut.
Lee birdied eight of her first 12 holes before cooling down and recording pars the rest of the way. She felt she played better on Thursday than her opening-round 73 indicated, and with another round came a better understanding of the contours of the greens at Liberty National, which is hosting an LPGA event for the first time.
"I think Liberty National is kind of a course where if you play it more, the better idea you have," Lee said. "So since it's the inaugural event it's the same for everybody. I think day by day, you learn new things about the course every day."
While Lee is looking for her ninth LPGA Tour win, Knight is in search of her second and her first since October 2019. Knight started on the back nine and made four of her six birdies on the front, including three straight at Nos. 1-3.
"I think just how I rebounded and kind of how I didn't let my emotions get the best of me today is something I'll take going forward," Knight said.
After an early bogey, Lydia Ko birdied Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 10 for a quick surge before parring the rest of her holes. She was in the same group as Lee but tried to focus on her own game while Lee went on her birdie spree.
"I think sometimes you get caught up about what the other person is doing," Ko said. "You just got to do a good job of you and see where that puts you at the end of the day."
Zhang recorded an eagle on the par-5 13th hole to go with three birdies and two bogeys.
First-round leader Lauren Hartlage followed an opening 65 with a 4-over 76 that dropped her into a tie for 12th at 3 under.
New Jersey native Marina Alex rebounded from an opening 80 by matching Lee's 64 for the low round of the day. Alex carded nine birdies and one bogey, including a second-nine 30 with six birdies, as she jumped from 8 over to even par, safely inside the cut line.
"I made some dumb decisions off tees (in the first round) that cost me like a bunch of shots," Alex said. "I learned from that today and then I just kind of got off to a really good, solid start, and luckily the momentum just kept going in my favor."
Sixty-two players made the cut of 2 over or better.
--Field Level Media