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LPGA Tour rookie Hae Ran Ryu leads NW Arkansas Championship


ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — LPGA Tour rookie Hae Ran Ryu shot another bogey-free 7-under 64 to push her lead to two strokes Saturday in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, leaving Lexi Thompson six strokes back with a round left.

Ryu played her final nine at Pinnacle Country Club in 5-under 31 with birdies on Nos. 3-6 and 9. Seeking her first LPGA Tour victory, the 22-year-old South Korean player was the LPGA Q-Series medalist last year.

“It’s more confidence ... that I can make so many birdies,” Ryu said. “This week my shot is so perfect.”

A stroke back after an opening 65, Thompson had just two birdies in a bogey-free 69 that left her tied for 11th at 8 under. Winless since June 2019, the 11-time LPGA Tour winner is 138th in the Race to CME Globe and in danger of losing her tour card for 2024 without taking a career money exemption.

Thompson is on the leaderboard after going 3-1 in Spain last week in the United States’ tie that left the cup in Europe’s hands.

Fellow tour rookie Yuna Nishimura of Japan and Hannah Green of Australia were tied for second at 12 under. Nishimura shot 64, and Green had her second 65.

“It’s hard because the scoring is so low you feel like if you’re not under par early you’re really going to fall behind,” Green said. “Tomorrow, even if I am a couple back, you just never know what can happen. Someone could shoot honestly 10-under par and just come from nowhere.”

Green won the LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in April for third LPGA Tour title.

Jenny Shin (66) was 11 under, and fellow South Korean player Sei Young Kim (63) was 10 under.

Ryu has a bogey-free streak of 42 holes.

“Little worrying at hole 8, my hole 17,” Ryu said. “A little awkward short putt, but I make par.”

She spotted a picture of 2008 champion Seon Hwa Lee, her short game coach in South Korea, in the past winners’ gallery in the clubhouse.

“I text some picture,” Ryu said.

Muni He of China shot a 62 to get to 7 under. She had 10 birdies and one bogey.

Lydia Ko, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 10, had a triple bogey in a 72 that left her 5 under. She won the 2016 event and has five other top-10 finishes at Pinnacle Country Club.

Defending champion Atthaya Thitikul had a 71 to make the cut on the number at 3 under.

Former University of Arkansas star Stacy Lewis missed the cut with rounds of 78 and 72, days after captaining the U.S. Solheim Cup team. She won the tournament in 2007 and 2014.


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf