Incredible teenage amateur Lydia Ko gave another masterclass in golf at Royal Canberra today, but not even she could hold off the barnstorming Colombian Mariajo Uribe, who will go into the weekend with a one-shot lead in the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open.
Uribe, 22, had carded a scintillating nine-under par 64 on Thursday but her feat was undersold because 15-year-old Ko went one shot better. Not bothered, the South American rattled off a six-under par 67 today, narrowly missing a birdie at her last hole, the ninth on the course, to reel in both Ko and South Korean Jiyai Shin.
Uribe, who plays on the LPGA Tour in America is already at 15-under-par for the tournament after two days of benign weather conditions. The world No. 8 Shin (67 today) and Ko (69) are a shot back with Australia's Kristie Smith five from the lead as the next closest contender after a fine 68.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng is still poised at seven-under, eight from the lead, along with the defending champion, America's Jessica Korda. Four-time winner Karrie Webb scraped in on the cutline at one-under-par but of the prominent players to miss the weekend action the most obvious was Michelle Wie.
Uribe is unheralded here but has had a star next to her name for some time now, despite hailing from a country with just a couple of public golf courses. She won the US amateur championship in 2007 and then finished in the top 10 at the US Open the next year, graduating to the LPGA in 2010. Her only tournament win as a professional was in Brazil in 2011, an LPGA tournament but not an official one because it was played over just two days.
She carries a delightful countenance and can shoot the lights out, so to speak, and she has not made a single bogey in two days of golf. After her round today, she said she had come in with low expectations after two months off, but found her putter running hot.
She might well have gone lower today, lipping out with a birdie putt on her second-last hole, then narrowly missing another at her final hole, the ninth. Uribe had missed a fairway bunker with her drive at that hole by the finest margin, a fact she put down to karma. "I saw it was a good bounce, and that's the way it's been this week,'' she said. "I believe in things that are meant to be and I feel it's meant to be for me to play good this week. Hopefully it stays like that for the weekend.''
It is the first time she has led a tournament through two rounds, but she intends to stay cool over the weekend. "I'm not the type of player who gets nervous. I love pressure. That's when I play better, usually.''
New Zealander Ko made world headlines with her record-breaking Thursday round, and she appeared to be headed on a similar path when she made four birdies in the opening seven holes today. But her round stalled after that and a bogey at the par-four 14th hole when her six iron shot flew straight over the flag and into thick rough behind the green, saw her surrender the lead.
A matter-of-fact Ko said her putter had been ''crazy'' on Thursday, when she had just 21 putts, adding that she could expect it to be like that every day. "Four-under is a good score,'' she said. "It's not an easy course.''
Ko will play in the second-last group tomorrow with Smith. Shin and Uribe will be at the back of the field.