MELBOURNE — Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn is in a three-way tie for the lead at the halfway mark of the women's Australian Open, the third event on this year's LPGA Tour.
The 19-year-old Thai star is in elite company at 6 under par, alongside newly crowned world number one Lydia Ko, who shot a second straight 3-under par 70 on Friday. Joining them was South Korea's Jang Ha-na, whose round of 69 was the best round of the day.
Ariya, who finished runner-up at the Bahamas Classic two weeks ago, has never finished worse than 11th in her seven previous LPGA Tour starts.
Ko, the 17-year-old sensation from New Zealand, parred the front nine but had a far more adventurous back nine that featured an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys.
She was furious with herself after only taking a par at the 14th hole, which she eagled the previous day, but made amends when she eagled the par-four 15th, holing out with a nine-iron from 125 metres (136 yards).
"That anger led me to hit an aggressive drive on the 15th," Ko told reporters. "I was so upset from the hole before that I gambled.
"A little bit of anger is good because it lets the steam out, whereas sometimes I've had experiences where I've kept it in and it's definitely not helped me."
England's Charley Hull was fourth at four-under, one shot ahead of South Korean Amy Yang and American Jessica Korda, who won the 2012 Australian Open the last time the event was played at Royal Melbourne.