World No 1 Lydia Ko shot a course record 11 under 61 to go with her first round 70 to sit at the top of the leaderboard at 13-under-par in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women's Open

Ko’s round over the Clearwater course included an eagle, 10 birdies, six pars and one bogey. The 17-year-old will take a three-shot lead into the final round from England’s Charley Hull (70-64), while Italy’s Giulia Sergas (68, 67) shares third with American Beth Allen (68, 67).

Another four players are a further shot back and will have to go low to have any chance of catching Ko. The quartet includes Oates Vic Open champion Marianne Skarpnord, Scotland’s Pamela Pretswell, American Marina Alex and Finland’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen.

At one stage Ko had nine birdies in a 10-hole stretch and she also flirted with 59.

“I didn’t know what I was shooting but when I went past the scoreboard on 13 (she was 10 under), I thought, oh, 59, that is the magical number but I’m pretty happy with 61,” she said.

Hull also entertained thoughts of going under the 60 barrier after her fourth straight birdie at the 13th.

“It did enter my mind. I was eight-under and thought I could possibly get to 59.”

She attributed her six-shot improvement from round one to better awareness on the greens.

“Coming from Royal Melbourne last week the greens were so fast and really tricky. With these ones you can be a bit firmer and not allow so much break. I think I had 26 putts. I hit some good putts out there so I’m pretty happy with the way I played. You always believe you’ve left a few putts out there, but I holed a fair few as well. Going into the final day I think I’m in a good position,” she said.

First round leader, Anne-Lise Caudal carded a three-over-par 75 to be in a tie for 21st position. Dame Laura Davies made her move into the top 10 today after carding a five-under 67. The 2010 NZ Women’s Open champion is at six-under-par and tied for ninth.



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