New Zealand golf prodigy Lydia Ko fired a second-straight four-under par 68 on Friday to seize a share of the second-round lead with Chella Choi at the LPGA's Canadian Women's Open.
Ko, a 15-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander who won the US Women's Amateur crown a fortnight ago, shared the lead with Choi on eight-under 136, three shots in front of their nearest rivals.
She played without a bogey on the Vancouver Golf Club course and birdied three holes in a row starting at the par-three 12th, then added a fourth birdie at 17 to gain her share of the lead.
In January Ko won the New South Wales Open in Australia at the age of 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event.
"I'm just here for the experience," Ko said. "But the professionals, on the other hand, it's about how much money they're going to get by each placing."
Choi, 22, had eight birdies in a bogey-free eight-under par 64.
"I'm very happy," said Choi, who had been hindred by a sore shoulder on Thursday. "I don't know how I made the putts."
Club member Brian Alexander served as Ko's caddie, and she appreciated having the local knowledge.
"Two weeks ago at the U.S. Amateur, my mom caddied, and that is kind of a different feeling, because she's your mom and you have to listen to her," Ko said. "It was really comfortable having my mom there, but it's also really relieving and comfortable to have someone that knows the course off their hat, really. He's been here for, I think 10 years, so he knows where not to go and where to go. There were quite a few tricky greens."
Alexander, a real estate developer, said he gave Ko advice about the course in practice rounds this week, but she has been making her own decisions during the tournament.
Moira Dunn, Angela Stanford, US Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi and Inbee Park shared third place on five-under 139. Dunn and Stanford both carded 70s, while South Korea's Park posted a 71 and her comptriot Choi shot 72.
It was a further shot back to Norway's Suzann Pettersen (69), South Korea's Jiyai Shin (70) and Vicky Hurst (70) on 140.
Pettersen admitted it was odd seeing Ko's name atop the leaderboard.
"It feels like you're being beaten by a kid," Pettersen said about Ko. "I know she's good. The problem is, she's too young to understand where she's at."
World number one Yani Tseng, the overnight leader after a 66, ballooned to a 75 to fall nine shots off the pace.
"I still have two days to go and, hopefully, next two days, I can fight back a little bit," the Taiwanese star said.