Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul carded a blistering 10-under 61 Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead during the second round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Ark.
Thitikul’s day included eight birdies and an eagle. Her stretch from Nos. 7 to 9 was particularly impressive, as she notched her eagle and two straight birdies to close out her day on her final three holes.
That gave her a 29 on her back nine, which she credited to a focused mind.
“Just hit a shot, just tap it in, putt it in,” Thitikul said. “You know, like I think when I play really good golf or shoot like really low score my mindset is like blank.”
Her first two rounds now leave Thitikul at 14-under 128 for the tournament.
“I mean, it’s a lot of — I pretty feel like it’s a lot of like things going to go in tomorrow, because like we have really good players out here on the LPGA Tour,” Thitikul said. “I think just do my best out there and I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it. You’re not going to be in the same moment anymore so, yeah, just keep trying my best.”
Previous co-leader Yuka Saso of Japan continued her strong play for a second straight day, pocketing a 6-under 65 to stay within a stroke of Thitikul headed into the final round Sunday.
Like Thitikul, she suffered no bogeys while netting six birdies.
“Just trying to be patient and trying to play consistent, trying to have fun. That’s been my mindset this week,” Saso said. “I think you have to play really good and shoot a low score to win here.”
Saso is followed closely by Lilia Vu, who has shot back-to-back 65s to get to 12 under for the tournament, good for third place.
Vu’s round featured an eagle on 7.
“I hit a really good drive,” Vu said. “It was downwind. Had 205 into the green and into the pin, and I just hit my 190 club. Landed just short and rolled up a bit to 16 feet, and then saw the line and I made the putt.”
A whopping nine golfers are tied for fourth, four shots behind the leader.
That group includes South Korea’s Chella Choi (63), Hye-Jin Choi (65) and Jeongeun Lee5 (68) as well as Danielle Kang (65), Jennifer Kupcho (65), China’s Muni He (66), England’s Charley Hull (66), Megan Khang (68) and Ryann O’Toole (68).
Defending champion Nasa Hataoka of Japan is tied for 51st at 5 under after scoring a 2-under 69. World No. 2 Nelly Korda is at 2 under (72).