Eighteen-time LPGA Tour winner Lydia Ko backed her first-round 65 with a bogey-free, 6-under 66 at the CME Group Tour Championship to take a five-stroke lead after 36 holes. Her 131 is her lowest score over 36 holes since the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open in July, where she posted a two-day total of 130 and eventually finished tied for fifth. Ko, who has only missed one fairway in the past two days, opened with par on his first five holes, but landed two birdies on numbers 6 and 7 to advance his round. She then birdied four more on her back nine, at 10, 11, 14 and 17, and had an unfortunate lip on the final hole to close with her 66, her 27th score in the 60s in her last 35 rounds. .

“I think I stayed very patient out there today. Obviously not bogeying first was a better start than yesterday,” Ko said. “But, with the wind direction being quite similar and the force being similar, I felt like I already knew at the start of the day it could be tricky, but at the same time because I played very solid on the back nine, I knew that if I made mistakes there were holes that could allow birdies.

It’s the 11th time Ko has held the 36-hole lead on the tour, and she’s won four of those previous instances, including last February at the Gainbridge LPGA in Boca Rio. A win would earn Ko her second Rolex Player of the Year honors, her second straight Vare Trophy and a $2 million check, the biggest in women’s golf, but she said she’s just focused on the game. free and without fantasy with two turns remaining.

“It’s kind of my goal this week, it’s not to let a hole or a blow destabilize me. This is the last tournament of the season. It’s my ninth year on the Tour, so I want to finish the season well and I also just want to finish it without any regrets,” Ko said. “You know, just playing freely there. I think that’s a big key for me.

Major champion Hyo Joo Kim sits in second solo at -8 overall, after birdying four and a single bogey that came in at No. 4 at Tiburon Golf Club. Kim, who won her fifth Tour title at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei in April, had her best result at the season finale in 2016 in her second appearance in the event, a tie for 16th place. She will play in the final group with her friend Ko on Saturday, looking to continue with the consistency she has seen the last two days in Napoli.

“I think when I play with someone I’m close to, it’ll definitely be more fun,” said Kim, who has four top-five finishes in her last eight events, dating back to KPMG’s PGA Women’s Championship. . “And if I play with a player who is playing well, I think I can keep up with that pace and play well as well. So I hope that will be the case tomorrow.

Four players are tied for third place at -8, including world number one Nelly Korda. Korda went from a birdie on the first hole to a bogey at No. 3 and landed three birdies at 6, 7 and 9 before making the turn. Nine straight pars later, Korda’s 69 was enough to keep her squarely in the mix as she chases the lead on Moving Day.

“I played in windier conditions. I played in Britain where it was more difficult where you couldn’t even get the ball in the air because it only took a mile,” said the Bradenton native. “As the years go by, you play under those conditions, the more you learn. I grew up here, so yes.

LPGA Tour winners Jeongeun Lee6, Leona Maguire and Amy Yang are tied for seventh at -6, while eight players are tied for 10th, including this year’s Rolex ANNIKA Major Award winner Minjee Lee, who posted a 4-under 68.

“When I started this morning it was very windy so I think I started with a series of pars and then I birdied two on the front nine and then I had three birdies and a bogey on the back nine,” Lee said. “So a pretty solid day. I would have liked to birdie 17 and parry 18, but that’s golf. So I hope to have it tomorrow.

Defending champion Jin Young Ko is tied for 49th at +4 after a 3 of 75 on Friday, in a round that included two double bogeys on Nos. 2 and 15. Saturday play begins at 8 a.m. ET.