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Korea make second round surge in Espírito Santo Trophy

Korea hold a seven stroke lead over second place Switzerland after the second round of the Espirito Santo Trophy in 27th Women’s World Amateur Team Championships.

A second round total of 137, including a 68 from Min Ji Park and a 69 from Hye Jin Choi, puts them in a strong position with an overall 36-hole total of 275 at the halfway point.

The Koreans are seeking their fourth victory in the event having first claimed the Espirito Santo Trophy in 1996.

In 2012 in Turkey, they made a similar surge in the second round, moving from eighth position into a five-stroke lead, and in 2010 in Argentina, they shot a record round total of 128 to move from a tie for 13th into first place.

“I’m very happy that we are leading at the moment and I’m very proud of the players,” said Korean captain Sang-Won Ko. “It was a little different from yesterday. We struggled in the front nine yesterday but today everyone seemed very calm. I feel that they really enjoyed playing and that’s why the score is very good.”

Park, the 16-year-old Australian Amateur champion, posted six birdies and two bogeys for a four-under-par 68 and Choi, 16, who finished as the low amateur at the 2016 US Women’s Open, recorded four birdies and one bogey for her round of 69. The team, which began the day one-stroke behind Switzerland, played on the par 72 Mayakoba El Camaleon course.

“I will give them the same encouragement and advice for the next two days but my players are doing really well so I will give them the freedom to play their own game and enjoy the championships,” Ko said.

“This is a team event though, so we focus on playing as a team, practising together and keeping a good team spirit,” Choi added. “We trust each other very much and that is good for our performance.”

First-round leader Switzerland, playing on the Iberostar Playa Paraiso course, registered a second round total of 145 with scores fron the Metraux sisters, Kim (72) and Morgane (73), to sit in second place.

“I’m really pleased but a little frustrated right now because I finished with two bogeys,” said Kim Metraux, who is a Florida State University teammate with sibling Morgane. “But I couldn’t have wished for anything better, we are in contention and that’s all that is important. We still have two rounds to go so anything can happen.”

Ireland, tied seventh after the first round, moved into third position on three-under-par after rounds of 70 and 71 from Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey. Maguire is one of two 2016 Olympians in the field and the Mark H. McCormack medal winner in 2015 and 2016 as the world’s top-ranked amateur.

“The goal today was to try to be under par as a team,” said Maguire, who is a student at Duke University in the USA. “I had a lot of chances out there that just edged the hole so going into the last two days I will be trying to hole a few more of them and anything can happen really.

“Two good under par rounds from two of us is all it really needs to jump us up there. We will just be trying to keep giving ourselves chances and hopefully a few more will drop in the next two days.”

Denmark, on the strength of  a 5-under 67 from Puk  Lyng Thomsen, and a 2-under 70 from Malene Kroelboell Hansen, registered a 7-under 137 (matching Korea for the day’s low team total) to move into a tie for fourth with Thailand at 288.

Naomi Ko, of Canada, posted a 6six-under par 66, the day’s lowest round at Playa Paraiso.

The rest of the top 10 includes the People’s Republic of China (6), with the Austria and the USA tied for seventh. Host Mexico is ninth and Canada is tenth.

The Women’s World Amateur Team Championship is a biennial international amateur competition conducted by the International Golf Federation (IGF), which comprises 147 national governing bodies in 141 countries and 22 professional members.

The competition, which is being held for the 27th time, is rotated among three geographic zones: Asia-Pacific, Americas and Europe-Africa. This year’s event is hosted by the Mexican Golf Federation. The teams play for the Espirito Santo Trophy.

The IGF is the international federation for golf for the International Olympic Committee and conducted the Olympic golf competition in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. In each round, the total of the two lowest scores from each team constitutes the team score for the round. The four-day (72-hole) total is the team’s score for the championship.

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