Jennifer Kupcho and Austin Ernst shot matching 67s on Friday for the second consecutive round at the LPGA Drive On Championship in Ocala, Fla., and are tied for the lead at 10-under par.
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda had the day’s best round at the Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, a bogey-free, 7-under par 65 that has her two shots back in third place.
Rounding out the top five were Nelly Korda, who won last week’s Gainbridge LPGA event, fired a 2-under 70 to finish at 7 under, and 2019 Symetra Tour graduate Jenny Coleman, who shot a 3-under 69 to complete two rounds at 5 under overall.
Ernst shot a bogey-free round on Friday, knocking down five birdies.
“Fairways were a little more bouncy this afternoon, so had a few more wedges in,” said Ernst, who hit 15 greens. “With how firm the greens are, you really have to take advantage if you get quite a few wedge opportunities. I have driven it well, too.”
Kupcho, aiming for her first career LPGA tournament win, was thankful to have avoided a migraine that followed her on Thursday.
“Felt a lot better today. Yesterday was pretty rough,” Kupcho said. “I’ve been in contention out here before, so just go out, relax and have fun. I think especially with my new caddy (Patrick Smith) this year we do a good job of having fun and relaxing. I think it’ll be a fun weekend.”
Ciganda welcomed back Terry McNamara, the long-time caddy for Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam.
“We had a great four years together and with COVID last year, I think he wanted to take a little break,” Ciganda said. “I always enjoy working with him. He’s very peaceful, experienced, very calm. That is what I need on the course.”
Korda is keeping her eye on the conditions and the weather.
“The biggest part of this golf course is the greens,” Korda said. “There have been lower scores in the morning because they’re fresh and they do get bumpy in the afternoon. Greens are playing a big part in the scores, so just going to stay positive. Everyone is going to be playing through weather (Saturday).”
Five players are tied for sixth at 4 under, including 2020-21 LPGA Tour rookies Patty Tavatanakit (70) of Thailand and Ireland’s Leona Maguire (71). A total of 71 players made the cut of 2-over par, including the LPGA Drive On Championship-Inverness winner Danielle Kang, who sits at 2 under after a second-round 70.