Atthaya two shots back at Texas LPGA event


Young Thai star seeking second tournament victory in two weeks

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand watches her bunker shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the Volunteers of America tournament at Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas. (Photo: Getty Images/AFP)

THE COLONY, Texas: Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand is two shots off the lead as she chases her third LPGA title at the halfway stage of the Volunteers of America Classic.

The teenage star, seeking her second straight win after her victory in Arkansas last weekend, shot a four-under-par 67 to reach 9 under after two rounds.

She trails England’s Charley Hull, who maintained her blistering recent form to surge into the lead with a seven-under-par 64 — the lowest round of the tournament so far — to move to 11 under.

Atthaya, currently ranked third in the world, offset a double bogey at the par-4 ninth hole by eagling the par-5 17th. The 19-year-old won last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and is in position to contend for her third victory of the season.

“Golf is challenging, because … you change the course every week and then you have to adjust yourself to the course every week as well,” Atthaya said. “The grass is different, the greens are different, wind, weather are different. So I think we get used to it.”

First-round leader Xiyu Lin of China posted a 68 to move into a tie with Atthaya. one stroke ahead of Lindy Duncan of the United States.

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand is another shot back at 7 under, tied with Jessica Korda and Emily Pedersen. Sister Ariya Jutanugarn, a former world No.1, is at 5 under.

Teeing off on the back nine, Hull picked up three birdies before the turn and then added five more down the stretch to take the lead.

The 26-year-old is chasing her second LPGA Tour victory after her maiden win at the 2016 Tour Championship.

Friday’s 64 was Hull’s fifth straight round in the 60s. She finished tied for fifth at last week’s NW Arkansas Championship.

Hull credits her recent resurgence with her decision to take a two-week break from the tour after back-to-back missed cuts at the CP Women’s Open and Dana Open.

Hull used that time to recharge and play golf with her friends.

“I played about four or five rounds of 36 holes when I was home,” Hull said.

“I’m just one of those people. I actually prefer playing golf at home with my mates than I do on tour.

“I feel like when I’m on the golf course now, I pretend I’m at home with my friends and be more relaxed. That’s what I’m doing and it seems to be working.”