THE COLONIAL, Texas – Charlie Hall forced herself to work a little harder on her putting and saw her take a 36-hole lead with an eight-birdie 7-under 64 on Friday at the Ascendant LPGA.
Hall took control at the turn with four birdies through six holes and was two shots ahead of Xiyu “Janet” Lin (68) and Thailand’s Ataya Titikul, who finished with an eagle-birdie 67.
Titikul can climb to No. 1 in the women’s world rankings after winning for the second week in a row on the LPGA Tour.
They played in the morning and caught the better side of the waves at the Old American Golf Club in moderate winds. The course has been busy, but it has made it difficult to pick up a pin.
Hull, 26, is from England and has done well and relied on putting. That’s the least she likes to practice at home, but she prefers to improve by playing up to 36 holes a day.
“I just feel like the putter was really strong today,” Hall said. “When I was at home, I worked hard on the game because I felt that it was the most boring part of the game to practice. I didn’t practice as much as I could, so I practiced for two hours every day. And just trying to adjust.”
She started with a birdie on the back nine and the par-5 17th, which sent her to three birdies on the opening four holes of the front nine. Hull finished with two birdies and was 11-under 131.
“I was so focused I can’t really remember a lot of my laps. I didn’t know what my score was when I went in,” Hall said.
It’s been nearly six years since Hall, a five-time Solheim Cup player, won her only LPGA Tour victory at the CME Team Championship. She also has three Ladies European Tour victories, the most recent falling in the final at the Aramco Group Series in New York.
Titikul won last week in Arkansas, and 19-year-old Jin Young Ko could replace him as world No. 1. Nellie Korda will be no worse than No. 2 after this week after missing the cut by a shot of 75-72.
Titikul made no secret of his disapproval of her old American game. At the beginning of the week, she told the group around her that she didn’t have much to look forward to.
That may have helped the Thai teenager, who was trying to think less and react with a shot. She overcame a double bogey on the par-4 ninth hole and set herself up for the weekend with a 40-foot eagle on the 17th and a closing birdie.
“When I started, like in the first round, I said to myself and my manager and my caddy, I’ve had enough of the cut on this course,” Titikul said. “It’s a challenge for me. I think it’s a lot different than last week. It’s dry and it’s very finished, and it’s a lot of shields.
“I don’t think much on the course. That’s why I can play well these two days.”
Lynn led by one after the first round and birdied two of the 5s.
Lindy Duncan had a 65 and was three shots behind. Jessica Korda had a 66 and was four back, while Lydia Ko had a 66 and was an extra shot back. Lexi Thompson played in the morning and managed just a 70, leaving the American six shots behind as she tries to end more than three years without a win on the LPGA.