World No.1 Lydia Ko was hitting the ball so poorly on the driving range that she decided to pack it all in and just look forward to having some fun during the 18 holes ahead.
A bogey on the first hole after a slightly misdirected drive and being short with her approach did little to lift her mood.
Seventeen holes later the world No.1 walked off Clearwater with a course record 11 under 61 to go with her first round 70 to sit atop of the leader board at 13-under-par.
With her 11 under par round, she tied the LET’s all-time record for the lowest 18 holes with six other players: Trish Johnson, Kirsty Taylor, Nina Reis, Lisa Holm Sorensen, Karrie Webb and So Yeon Ryu.
Ko’s round included an eagle, 10 birdies, six pars and one bogey. The 17-year-old will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch.
England’s Charley Hull (70-64) is outright second, while Italy’s Giulia Sergas (68, 67) shares third with American Beth Allen (68, 67) who also eagled the second.
Another four players are a further shot back and will have to go low to have any chance of catching Ko. The quartet includes Oates Vic Open champion Marianne Skarpnord, Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell, American Marina Alex and Finland’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
On top of her poor practice routine, Ko also didn’t have a very good night’s sleep.
“And I really love my sleep. Nothing was really going the way I wanted it to but I got the eagle on two and a really great birdie on four.”
At one stage Ko had nine birdies in a 10-hole stretch.
“Probably the closest I have come to repeating this is when I was playing the Australian Open at Royal Canberra where on the first nine I made no pars. I had two bogeys, one eagle and the rest birdies,” she said.
Ko also flirted with 59.
“I didn’t know what I was shooting but when I went past the scoreboard on 13 (she was 10 under), I thought, oh, 59, that is the magical number but I’m pretty happy with 61,” she said.
Hull also entertained thoughts of going under the 60 barrier after her fourth straight birdie at the 13th.
“It did enter my mind. I was eight-under and thought I could possibly get to 59.”
She attributed her six-shot improvement from round one to better awareness on the greens. “Coming from Royal Melbourne last week the greens were so fast and really tricky. With these ones you can be a bit firmer and not allow so much break. I think I had 26 putts. I hit some good putts out there so I’m pretty happy with the way I played. You always believe you’ve left a few putts out there, but I holed a fair few as well. Going into the final day I think I’m in a good position,” she said.
Hull and Ko matched birdies on 6, 10, 11, 12, and 13 while the third member of their group, Australian Su Oh, also birdied 6, 10 and 13. The threesome shared an eagle and 22 birdies in the first 13 holes.
First round leader, Anne-Lise Caudal carded a three-over-par 75 to be in a tie for 21st position. Dame Laura Davies made her move into the top 10 today after carding a five-under 67. The 2010 NZ Women’s Open champion is at six-under-par and tied for ninth.
West Australian Hannah Green is the leading amateur, she is tied for ninth with Davies after rounds of 68 and 70.
The cut was made at one-over-par, 61 players will tee it up in the final round including four amateurs. The final group of Ko, Hull and Sergas will tee off at 12.33 local time.