NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko is in total control at the halfway mark of the CME Group Tour Championship.
Total control of the season-long scoring and money races, too.
Ko shot a 6-under 66 in Friday’s second round of the LPGA Tour’s season finale, pushing her to 13 under for the tournament and five shots clear of Hyo Joo Kim through 36 holes.
Ko made four birdies in a six-hole stretch midway through her round, rolled in a testy 4-footer to save par on the par-4 13th to maintain what was then a four-shot lead, and hasn’t dropped a shot since her opening hole on Thursday.
“I just wanted to focus on my game,” said Ko, who turned a one-shot lead entering Friday to a five-shot edge when it was over.
Her flawless round capped a big day for the LPGA, which unveiled its 2023 schedule with a record-setting $101.4 million in purses earlier Friday.
The five women’s golf majors account for $37.9 million of the planned purses, led by $10 million set to be paid out at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach next July. That tournament is immediately preceded on the schedule by the Women’s PGA Championship at Baltrusol, a $9 million event. That’s $19 million to be paid out in a span of just two events, something that was unfathomable in women’s golf just a few years ago.
Kim (69) made back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 to get to 8 under, alone in second. World No. 1 Nelly Korda (69) is in a pack tied for third at 7 under, along with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka (67), Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (69) and Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh (70).
Ko entered the week with a one-point lead in the race for LPGA Tour player of the year. She needs to avoid just all-out disaster on the weekend to win her second consecutive Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
PGA: At St. Simons Island, Georgia, Harry Higgs played bogey-free on the more difficult Seaside course for a 7-under 63, giving him a share of the lead with recent Cole Hammer and Andrew Putnam going into the weekend of the RSM Classic. The leaders were at 12-under 130.
DP WORLD: In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, top-ranked Rory McIlroy, who leads the Race to Dubai standings, shot a 4-under 68 that left him seven shots back of co-leaders Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Fitzpatrick’s 67 puts him at 12-under 132 overall to share a three-shot lead with Hatton after two rounds.
Fitzpatrick would clinch a first Race to Dubai title with a third win at the World Tour Championship, provided McIlroy or Ryan Fox don’t finish the event in second. A second-place finish would also be good enough for Fitzpatrick if McIlroy finishes lower than seventh.