BELLEAIR, Fla. — Emily Kristine Pederson had six birdies in her opening 10 holes and held on for a 5-under 65 on Friday, giving her a two-shot lead in The Annika and moving the Danish player two rounds closer to earning a spot in the LPGA Tour season finale.
Pederson dropped three shots over her final seven holes at Pelican Golf Club as the wind picked up late in the morning. Part of her wishes her 65 could have been lower.
“It got a little bit more windy out there and my back nine was not as I hoped,” Pederson said. “I hit a few uncommitted golf shots that I’m a little bit mad at myself about. That happens. Hopefully, I can commit a bit more tomorrow and keep it going o the whole round.”
Minami Katsu of Japan had a 67 and was two shots behind, followed by Jasmine Suwannapura of Thailand, who had a 65 and was four behind.
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Pederson, who was on Europe’s successful Solheim Cup team in Spain, was at 12-under 128, the lowest 36-hole score in the four years the event has been played. She is No. 80 in the Race to CME Globe, knowing only the top 60 advance next week to the CME Group Tour Championship down the Florida coast in Naples.
“Obviously, I know where I am at the CME,” Pederson said. “I know I want to play next week as well. But at the end of the day I also know — and I’ve made this mistake so many times in the past — you can’t do anything about it. So I’m just trying to focus on putting together a good day, a good hole, good shot every day.”
“So many times I’ve looked ahead and it’s not gone well,” she said. “So I’m trying to do something different.”
Katsu is No. 78, and she also is in good position to advance.Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko still have a lot of work to do at Pelican. Thompson, winless in more than four years on the LPGA Tour, had started to see her game come around and was hopeful of a spark from playing a PGA Tour event in Las Vegas, where she missed the cut by three shots. But she could only manage a 70, leaving her six shots behind.
Thompson is No. 88 in the Race to CME Globe.Ko won the season finale a year ago to cap off a season in which she swept all the important LPGA awards. She ended it by getting married. But his year has been a disappointment, and Ko came into at No. 101 on the points list.
She likely would need a runner-up finish to advance, but she shot a 69 on Friday and was eight shots out of the lead in a tie for 31st.
Jin Young Ko, a two-time winner this year, had a 69 and was in the large group four back.