Sunday, March 26, 2017

Park could present true test for Jutanugarn, Ko

Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn may get a taste this weekend of what their real challenge could become this year.

And it might not be beating each other.

With former world No. 1 Inbee Park healthy and motivated, a familiar shadow fell across the LPGA Friday at the HSBC Women’s Champions.

Park may have slipped to No. 12 in the Rolex Women’s World Ranking during her long leave last year recovering from injury, but she has Ko and Jutanugarn and everyone else chasing her in Singapore.

Full-field scores from the HSBC Women’s Champions

With her second straight 5-under-par 67, Park is in weekend position to claim her 18th LPGA title in just her second start after returning from a nearly six-month break to heal a thumb injury.

Ko is three shots back.

Jutanugarn, who is one shot behind Park, got see how Park’s game was rebounding in their pairing together in the second round. They are paired together yet again on Saturday.

“I have so much fun playing with Inbee, because she inspires me a lot,” Jutanugarn said. “Like when I play with her, even before, I feel I try to be better golfer.”

Jutanugarn said Park’s easy demeanor is contagious.

“She’s chilling,” Jutanugarn said. “I like that a lot. It makes me feel better. I try to be calmer.”

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