PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. (AP) — Hannah Green took the lead into the weekend in the Palos Verdes Championship, rebounding from consecutive bogeys Thursday in gusting wind to birdie the two late par 5s in a 5-under 66.
Green had a three-stroke lead over five players at hilly Palos Verdes Estates in the first-year event that wraps up the LPGA Tour’s two-week, Los Angeles-area stay and five-event West Coast swing.
“Hopefully, I can keep as many bogeys off the scorecard and keep making birdies,” Green said. “I think there will be some low scores.”
Green finished second behind Nasa Hataoka on Sunday in the LA Open at Whilshire Country Club. She has two other top-eight finishes this season, tying for sixth in Singapore and tying for sixth at Mission Hills in the first major of the year.
“I’m excited to see what the weekend brings,” Green said. “I think they’re going to maybe change the course setup, maybe make things a bit more drivable. It’ll be good. I’m excited. Always nice to play in the last group and playing last weekend, I think that helps as well.”
The Australian birdied the first three holes and five of the first seven Friday in her afternoon round, then dropped strokes on the par-4 12th and downhill par-3 13th. She got the shots back with birdies on 14 and 16 and closed with two pars to finish at 9-under 133.
“It was a really nice start,” Green said.” I feel like as soon as you have wedge in your hand you want to make a birdie, and managed to get another couple birdies coming in on the front nine. I knew the back nine was going to be quite difficult with the wind picking up and getting a little bit gusty.”
Green has birdied all three par 5s each day. She won both of her LPGA Tour titles in 2019, taking the major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine and the Portland Classic.
First-round leader Minjee Lee followed her opening 63 with a 73 to drop into a tie for second with top-ranked Jin Young Ko (72), Lydia Ko (67) and Megan Khang (69).
The fourth-ranked Lee eagled the par-5 seventh and had four bogeys. She tied for third at Whilshire.
Jin Young Ko had a double bogey on No. 5 and just one birdie. Last week, she stumbled to a tie for 21st after sharing the lead late in the third round.
“I was tough to round in the afternoon,” Jim Young Ko said. “Greens are bumpy poa annua and windy out there, so it was hard.”
Lydia Ko had an early double bogey on the par-3 13th and eagled the seventh.
“You just have to play just creatively and be patient,” Ko said. “There are some tougher holes and some easier ones, so even if you do make a mistake, don’t give up, and feel like you can make up for it on the next hole.”
Maude-Aimee Leblanc (68), Annie Park (69) and Jennifer Chang (72) were 5 under.
Lexi Thompson, playing alongside Ko and Brooke Henderson, was even par after a 73 in her first event since tying for fourth four weeks ago at Mission Hills. Henderson shot 75-72 to miss the cut for the second straight week.
Anna Davis, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner, made the cut in first LPGA Tour start, shooting 71-72. The 16-year-old is from Spring Valley east of San Diego. She received a sponsor exemption.