Ko shoots 62 to lead as Sharp sits T3 at NW Arkansas Championship

Alena Sharp (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

ROGERS, Ark. – Top-ranked Lydia Ko eagled the par-5 18th to tie the course record at 9-under 62 and take a share of the second-round lead Saturday in the LPGA Tour’s NW Arkansas Championship.

Ko matched Morgan Pressel at 14-under 128 at Pinnacle Country Club, tying the tournament 36-hole record set by Veronica Felibert in 2012. Ko played the final eight holes in 7 under, making five birdies and the eagle.

Pressel, winless since 2008, had a 63.

China’s Jing Yan, Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Canada’s Alena Sharp were 12 under. Sharp birdied the last two holes for a 65, Yan also shot 65, and Kung had a 66.

First-round leader Ayako Uehara followed her opening 62 with a 74 to drop to 6 under.

The 19-year-old Ko closed with a flourish on the back nine at the 6,330-yard course she’s has much success on over the last three years. The New Zealander finished fourth as an amateur in the event three years ago, and followed that by finishing second and sixth over the last two years.

On Saturday, Ko made the turn at 7 under and was well off the early leaders when she missed the fairway with a poor drive on No. 10. She recovered to make par and followed with four straight birdies, capping her 7-under back nine with a 10-foot putt for birdie on No. 17 and a 12-foot eagle putt on the 520-yard par-5 18th.

Ko has two LPGA Tour victories this year, including the major ANA Inspiration, to push her career total to 12. The reining LPGA Tour Player of the Year has finished no lower than 23rd this year and had finished in the top 10 in eight of her 12 tournaments.

Pressel, meanwhile, hasn’t won since the 2008 Kapalua Classic. The major winner at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship (no the ANA Inspirtation), however, has finished second five times since her last victory – including last month in Alabama.

Pressel was one of 13 players who opened the tournament with a 65 on Friday, and she quickly moved up the leaderboard during her afternoon round Saturday.

After Yan took the early clubhouse lead at 12 under following her second straight 65, Pressel moved into a tie at the top following back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. She closed her round with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th and a two-putt birdie on No. 18.

Pressel missed the cut last year, but she has finished as high as 16th in her eight previous appearances at the tournament. She hit 11 of 13 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation on Saturday, needing 27 putts on her way to a career low round on the course – topping an opening-round 66 she shot in 2010.

Ko, who opened with 66, needed only 27 putts and hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation.

Local favourite and former No. 1 Stacy Lewis was 5 under after a 70.

Second-ranked Brooke Henderson, who beat Ko in a playoff two weeks ago at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, missed the cut after a second-round 73 and finished at even par.

Defending champion Na Yeon Choi also missed the cut, finishing at 4 over.