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Ko vaults to share of lead before storms hit Ocala

OCALA — Lydia Ko played enough golf Thursday to catch up to the lead. She just didn't play enough to finish the rain-delayed second round of the Coates Championship.

Ko, the world's top-ranked women's player who is making her 2016 debut, was 4 under for her round and had a 15-foot birdie putt on her final hole at the par-4 ninth at Golden Ocala when the horn sounded to stop play because of thunderstorms.

Ko was 7 under for the tournament, tied with Ha Na Jang.

Jang, who opened with 65, didn't hit a shot Thursday. She was to tee off in the afternoon, but within an hour of play being stopped, several greens already were flooded. Play was suspended for the rest of the day and will resume today.

The 72-hole tournament is scheduled to end Saturday.

Haru Nomura made seven birdies for 66 and finished two rounds at 6-under 136.

Michelle Wie was in a group at 4 under that included Suzann Pettersen, Lexi Thompson and Juli Inkster, who birdied her opening hole of the second round before storms arrived.

Ko started opened with two birdies. But she birdied only one of the par 5s, though she never missed a fairway. "I felt more comfortable today. I was pretty pleased to see all my balls finish in the fairway," she said.

Ko played with Morgan Pressel, who was 3 under, and Paula Creamer, who was even. They could tell storm clouds were approaching, and Creamer jokingly said that play would be stopped right before they finished. All they could do was laugh when they reached the ninth green to mark their golf balls.

Ko, the 18-year-old from New Zealand, is coming off a five-victory season that included her first major and LPGA Tour player of the year.

PGA: Rickie Fowler, Shane Lowry and Hideki Matsuyama shared the lead at 6-under 65 in the suspended first round of the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz. After an hourlong frost delay at chilly TPC Scottsdale, Fowler played the first six holes in 5 under. Lowry birdied seven of his first 13 holes, then bogeyed the next two. Matsuyama was in one of the last groups to finish before play was stopped because of darkness. Anirban Lahiri was a stroke back at 66, and Bryce Molder also was 5 under with two holes left when play was suspended. Phil Mickelson settled for 69 after dropping four strokes in a two-hole stretch.

PGA EUROPE: Rory McIlroy started defense of his Dubai Desert Classic title with a bogey but battled back to post 4-under 68, leaving him two shots off the lead at United Arab Emirates. McIlroy bogeyed two of the easiest holes on the course — the par-5 10th, his first hole, and the driveable par-4 second — but also had six birdies to put him close behind leader Alex Noren of Sweden. "I thought I did well, considering the start and having some of the shots I hit throughout the round," McIlroy said. "A 68 was probably a fair reflection of how I played." Ernie Els, the most successful player in the history of the tournament with three titles and eight other top-10 finishes, matched McIlroy's 68. Four players were tied at 5-under 67: Sweden's Peter Hanson, Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Australia's Brett Rumford and South African Trevor Fisher.

Ko vaults to share of lead before storms hit Ocala 02/04/16 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2016 11:27pm]
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