Park takes three-stroke lead at CME Group Tour event

Park Sung-hyun of Korea plays a shot on the sixth hole during round two of the CME Group Tour Championship at the Tiburon Golf Club on Frdiay in Naples, Florida. — AFP

NAPLES, Florida —Park Sung-hyun put herself in position for a number of year-end honors with her performance on Friday.

The 24-year-old South Korean shot a second-round 65 at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, to give her a two-day total of 12-under-par 132 and a three-shot lead at the CME Group Tour Championship

Park already claimed rookie of the year honors, but she has also made herself a leading candidate for Player of the Year and the prize money title.

She also would likely reclaim the world No. 1 ranking if she were to win this week, and is in prime position to claim the $1 million bonus in the Race to the CME Globe.

Park nearly set the tournament record for two rounds, but a three-putt bogey on her final hole ruined that possibility. Instead she shares the two-day total of 12-under established by Lydia Ko last year.

Besides the lone bogey on No. 18, Park had six birdies, including five in a row from the fifth through ninth holes, and sank a 30-foot putt for an eagle on the par-5 17th hole.

"I didn't know I had made five in a row," she said. "I got behind in writing down my score and when I did and realized what I had done it felt good."

Park is slightly behind Lexi Thompson in the competition for the Vare Trophy, which is awarded to the player with the best scoring average for the year. But if Park continues her high level of play she could also take home that award as well.

Thompson shot a 67 Friday to put her at 6-under for the event and tied for 12th but is trying not to think about the possibilities at stake.

"I'm not really focusing on it at all," Thompson said, according to the LPGA website. "I just really wanted to play solid golf. Whatever happens, happens. I know I practiced so much in my off weeks and offseason. I'm trying my best, so whatever happens, I'll be proud of myself no matter what."

Sitting three strokes back in second place are Caroline Masson, who shot a 66 Friday, and Sarah Jane Smith, who had a 69. Another shot back are Nelly Korda (66), Pernilla Lindberg (67) and Madelene Sagstrom (68). — Reuters