Maja Stark converted her 18-hole lead into another on Friday in her debut appearance at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. She carded a second-round 68 to take a one-stroke lead at 10-under heading into the weekend at the at the Buick LPGA Shanghai.
“I think I played a little bit better than yesterday actually because I hit better shots. Obviously didn't make as many putts as I did yesterday, but overall my game felt better,” said Stark.
Stark, who admitted to a confidence boost after her first Solheim Cup start two weeks ago in Spain, will play alongside two-time Buick champion Danielle Kang of the USA and China’s Yu Liu who are tied for second at 9-under on Saturday.
“I'm really excited to play with [Liu]. On her home soil I think she's going to be ready to play really well,” said Stark, who faced Liu at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play in May and won 2&1. “Her home course, I didn't actually know that, but I feel like I could maybe get some tips because it's pretty tricky out there. Maybe I'll steal some of her strategies.”
Liu, whose 67 ties her season-low individual 18-hole score, carded a solo birdie on No. 3 and a bogey on 8 in her first eight holes. But, it was five birdies in the next six holes on Nos. 9 and 11-14 that brought Liu back up the leaderboard and in contention once again in her home country.
“To be honest, pretty low expectations coming in because I'm not good at playing in the rain, so I knew the forecast was pretty much going to rain all throughout the round, which it did,” said Liu. “So I just feel like -- my goal today was just to get through the round without making too much damage. I feel like I did a pretty good job.”
Kang’s round consisted of seven birdies and two bogeys, including four birdies in her final six holes of the day.
Spain's Azahara Munoz sits in a tie for fourth alongside Japanese rookie Yuna Nishimura and Thailand’s Pavarisa Yoktuan at 8-under.
“First hole I made a nice up and down and I actually almost chipped in. Ever since then I start hitting it really good. On 2, hit is super close; didn't make it. On 3 hitting it really close; made it. On 4, the same thing,” said Munoz, who is the lone player bogey-free through 36 holes in Shanghai. “After that, I just kind of kept trotting along and never got myself in trouble and just made a few more birdies.”