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Uehara drops down leaderboard; Ko ties course record in Arkansas

AP, Kyodo

Ayako Uehara surrendered her overnight lead and slid into a tie for 24th after struggling to a 3-over-par 74 in the second round of the NW Arkansas Championship on Saturday.

Uehara, who took top spot with a tournament-tying record of 62 in Friday’s first round, made three birdies but had two bogeys and as many double bogeys to close out at 6-under 136.

World No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand fired a course record-tying 62 to take a share of the lead with American Morgan Pressel (63) at 14-under 128.

Uehara opened with a birdie at the par-71 Pinnacle Country Club but double-bogeyed the second hole and dropped another shot at the third.

She birdied the seventh but had another double bogey and a bogey either side of a birdie at the 12th.

“I made a good birdie at the first hole but disrupted my rhythm with a double bogey at the second,” said Uehara. “I could not take my chances with my putts either.

“I tried to make birdies with the same spirit as the first round but I couldn’t improve my score. It’s a real shame,” she said.

Former world No. 1 Ai Miyazato matched par and was tied with Uehara in 24th.

Elsewhere for Japan, Harukyo Nomura had a 69 and was in a share of 36th at 5 under, but both Sakura Yokomine and Mika Miyazato missed the cut.

Ko tied the tournament 36-hole record set by Veronica Felibert in 2012. Ko played the final eight holes in 7 under, making five birdies and the eagle.

Pressel, winless since 2008, had a 63.

China’s Jing Yan, Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Canada’s Alena Sharp were 12 under. Sharp birdied the last two holes for a 65, Yan also shot 65, and Kung had a 66.

The 19-year-old Ko closed with a flourish on the back nine at the 6,330-yard course she’s had much success on over the last three years. The New Zealander finished fourth as an amateur in the event three years ago, and followed that by finishing second and sixth over the last two years.

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