Aussie Green fires sizzling 61 for Arizona LPGA lead

Australian Hannah Green plays a tee shot on the way to an 11-under par 61 in the second round of the LPGA Ford Championship in Arizona (Christian Petersen)
Australian Hannah Green plays a tee shot on the way to an 11-under par 61 in the second round of the LPGA Ford Championship in Arizona (Christian Petersen)

Australia's Hannah Green went from under the weather to on top of the leaderboard on Friday, reeling off six straight birdies to cap an 11-under-par 61 to grab the lead at the LPGA Ford Championship in Arizona.

"I wasn't really feeling that great overnight. Kind of have a bit of a runny nose and sore throat, so wasn't expecting that much which is maybe a good thing," said Green, who would go on to flip the script at Seville Golf and Country Club, where she's in search of her second title of the month.

"I missed a short putt on the first and I was like, 'Oh, OK, that's fine. I really took advantage of the shorter holes we had. I also holed a couple really long putts ... Just had a really nice morning."

Green, who rattled in a 30-foot birdie to win the HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore by one stroke earlier this month, hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 25 putts as she built a 36-hole total of 14-under 130.

She had a one-stroke lead over American Sarah Schmelzel and Taiwan's Chien Peiyun.

Schmelzel had nine birdies in a sparkling nine-under 63 while Chien posted a five-under 65 to reach 131. It was another stroke back to South Korean Kim Hyo-joo and Spain's Azahara Munoz on 132.

After four birdies on the front nine, Green opened the back with a birdie at the 10th, then birdied her last six holes -- from the 13th through the 18th -- to post a new career low on the LPGA.

It could have been even lower, but her eagle putt at the 18th lipped out and left her a tap-in for birdie.

"I holed a really good putt on 17," she said. "It was probably 25 feet up the hill, and that was the one that I hit quite firm, so luckily it was kind of dead center, otherwise I probably would've been motoring past."

Green said she also made some good "momentum putts," including a par-saving six-footer on the ninth.

"I think making those little putts is just as good as making the 20-, 25-footers," she said.

Green, ranked 19th in the world, said she was pleased to be able to take advantage of a "gettable" course, especially with conditions expected to change for the worse at the weekend.

- Ko in the hunt -

New Zealand's Lydia Ko, who won the season-opening Tournament of Champions and needs one more title to seal her place in the LPGA Hall of Fame, capitalized on the prime scoring conditions to card an eight-under-par 64 that put her three shots off the lead.

She was tied with Japan's Yuka Saso, who had a bogey-free 63, along with Germany's Caroline Masson and overnight leader Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand.

World number one Nelly Korda, chasing her third victory in as many starts this year, was a little frustrated with a four-under-par 68 that left her four adrift.

"Had three bogeys on the card, which I feel like out here is not the best with it being kind of gettable," Korda said.