|Shanshan Feng plays a shot during the second round in Dubai|
China’s World No.6 Shanshan Feng moved into the sole lead early in the second round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on Thursday morning.
Feng carded a sizzling second-round 65 on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club to consolidate her overnight share of the lead.
Starting her second from the 10th tee, Feng produced a stunning birdie blitz, picking up shots on holes 11, 12, 14, 16 and 17 to make the turn at five under.
On the front nine, she mixed three birdies with a lone bogey on the par-3 fourth hole – her only dropped shot in 36 holes – to go a whopping 13-under for the tournament.
She ended the day four clear of England’s Felicity Johnson who followed her first-round 68 with a 67 to sit at nine under par.
French duo Joanna Klatten and Gwladys Nocera were one shot back on eight-under 136 along with Germany’s Caroline Masson and Cindy LaCrosse of the United States.
Defending champion Lexi Thompson kept her chances alive with rounds of 69 and 68 to lie in outright seventh on seven under par.
The morning session belonged to Feng, the first player from China to claim a major championship in June. She had a chance to equal the tournament record, a 64, held by Sweden’s Louise Stahle since 2007, but had to settle for pars over her last four holes.
“My putting was really good. I think I have learned something from Inbee Park, who is our money queen on the LPGA Tour this season. I have played with her many times and know how well she putts,” said Feng. “My low score of the year was only six-under and today I have managed to break that. It will be great if I manage to keep the momentum going.”
Defending champion Thompson believes she is in a good position to make the move despite being six shots off the pace. “I am feeling good about my game. I shot a three-under in the first round and four in the second, so I am getting better.If I can shoot five or six under on the weekend that will put me in a good position. You can make a lot of birdies out there and, hopefully, I have saved them for the weekend,” said a confident Thompson, who is aiming to follow the legendary Annika Sorenstam in becoming the only player to have successfully defended the title in Dubai.
England’s Johnson birdied her last hole to finish off in style. “It was a straightforward round. I struck the ball again and hit a lot of greens. I managed to create many good opportunities, which was great. So far I am very happy with my work,” said Johnson, who is currently placed 24th on ISPS Handa Order of Merit.
Florentyna Parker, Feng’s first-round co-leader, slipped well down the leaderboard into a share of 13th after shooting a 74.
ISPS Handa Order of Merit leader Carlota Ciganda shot 68 and ended the day in a share of eighth place with Canadian Lorie Kane (70).
England’s Melissa Reid withdrew during the second round due to injury and will now start her Christmas break early. The halfway cut was made at one over with exactly 60 players progressing to the final two rounds. Scotland’s Carly Booth fought back well from an opening round 78 with a 67 to survive the cut, while Solheim Cup player Maria Hjorth and LPGA rookie Jodi Ewart were among the notables who missed the mark.
The third round gets under way at 8.50am local time on Friday, with the leading trio of Feng, Johnson and LaCrosse teeing off at 12.15pm.