ROGERS, ARKANSAS – Chie Arimura fired a bogey-free 65 to take a share of the lead after the second round of the NW Arkansas Championship on Saturday.
LPGA Tour rookie Arimura, who started the day in a tie for fourth, reeled off six birdies to reach 10-under 132 at the par-71 Pinnacle Country Club.
“I finished with a positive image in my mind after birdieing the last two holes,” said Arimura, who needed just 27 putts. “It’s fantastic that I did not make any bogeys today.”
Stacy Lewis and Beatriz Recari also shot 65s to join Arimura at the top of the leaderboard along with South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon, who had a 66.
Lewis was as low as 11 under after 17 holes, thanks in large part to needing only 27 putts for her round — a number that included several near misses and a three-putt on her final hole. The 28-year-old Lewis, who played during the morning, thrilled her pro-Arkansas gallery with four straight birdies on her first nine holes.
After starting on the back nine, she birdied holes 14-17 to reach 8 under before the par-5 18th took its toll. Lewis’ approach on her third shot came up just short and rolled to the bottom of the hill in front of the green. Her following chip did the same.
Fortunately for Lewis, she managed to save bogey with an up-and-down — thanks to her fifth straight one-putt. She then reached 11 under after four more birdies later in her round before bogeying her final hole of the day.
I.K. Kim and defending champion Ai Miyazato tied for the lowest round of the day, each shooting a 7-under 64.
Overnight leader Mika Miyazato shot a 70 and was three shots back, and top-ranked Inbee Park leads a group of three players two shots back at 8 under.
“It’s been a really great day. Everything came together,” said Ai, who still has her work cut out if she is to defend her title as she goes into the third round five strokes off the pace.
Elsewhere for Japan, Momoko Ueda (74) and Ayako Uehara (71) were at even-par 142 tied for 64th.
Hoffman thinks positive
Charley Hoffman lost his chance at winning last year’s Travelers Championship on the 71st hole.
His tee shot on the difficult par-4 17th at the TPC of River Highlands found the pond that runs along the fairway and he finished second, missing out on his third PGA Tour win.
This year Hoffman was in a three-way tie for the lead heading into Sunday’s final round and he expects a different outcome.
“Obviously if I get on 17 tee (in the lead), I’d be lying to say I’m not going to think about that tee shot,” Hoffman said Saturday after his 4-under 66 tied him with Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet at 10-under 200.
“But I’m a much more mature, better player than I was a year ago and don’t feel uncomfortable on that tee shot.”
Watson, who led by two shots when he began the third round and by four shots midway through it, made three bogeys in his last six holes to help create the logjam. DeLaet tied for the low round of the day with a 65.
Chris Stroud and Nick O’Hearn were one shot back of the leaders at 9 under, while Ken Duke’s 65 put him alone in sixth place.
Justin Rose, less than a week after his U.S. Open victory, was 7 under and in a tie for seventh after a second straight 68.
After shooting a 61 in the opening round, Hoffman struggled and shot 73 on Friday. He bounced back with a 66 Saturday that included five birdies.
“I got off to a pretty quick start and then birdied 10, thought I was going to get going again,” Hoffman said. “And then a little three-putt bogey on 12 sort of slowed things down.”