Ariya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free, 8-under 64 to jump into the 36-hole lead at the CP Women’s Open.

Jutanugarn, who sits at 12-under heading into the weekend, showed little ill-effect from the knee injury that forced her to withdraw from the Olympic golf competition last week in Rio de Janeiro. One of the longest hitters on the LPGA Tour, she managed her way around Priddis Greens’ Raven course layout without a driver in her bag.

“Honestly, I don’t think it’s [the golf course] so good for my game. For me, it’s a little bit narrow and I can’t hit my driver,” said the world’s no. 2 ranked player who can hit two-iron more than 220 yards. “But right now I feel more confident because I can hit my iron on the fairway and my 3-wood on the fairway. Sometimes I feel more confident with my irons.”

Jutanugarn holds a special connection to Canada and particularly the province of Alberta having won the 2012 Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship at Lethbridge Country Club.

A four-time winner on the LPGA Tour—all of which have come in 2016—Jutanugarn holds a three-shot lead over Stephanie Meadow and In Gee Chun while defending champion Lydia Ko is tied with four others at 8-under, four shots back.

Seventy-four players made the cut at 1-under par 143 including five of the 16 Canadian competitors in the field.

Alena Sharp and Maude-Aimée LeBlanc head into weekend action as the low Canadians through 36 holes at 6-under par, good for a share of 14th position.

Sharp, who shot 2-under 70, came to Priddis Greens riding the Olympic momentum of representing Canada in Rio. The Hamilton native has been playing some of the best golf of her career over the past year and is brimming with confidence heading into the weekend.

“I’m driving it well; so my 3-wood, I hit a draw with it and I hit a cut with my driver so I have options off the tee,” said Sharp.  “I missed a couple fairways today but got away with it because I had wedge in my hand. So I’m using my length to my advantage and I feel like the way I’m striking it and putts are going in, I have a good shot at it. Now I’ve got to play a couple more good rounds and see where it is on Sunday.”

LeBlanc’s 2016 performance at Priddis has been redemption of sorts, having narrowly missed the cut in 2009 as an amateur when a triple bogey on her 18th hole left her two shots out of weekend play when the club last hosted the stars of the LPGA Tour. The Sherbrooke, Que., native made eagle on her final hole and credited a hot putter for her impressive play through 36 holes.

“I played here in 2009, so I knew the course a little bit; I didn’t have a good experience back then so I got a little redemption this year,” said LeBlanc. “I think the longest putt I made before that [eagle putt on 18] was three, four feet all day. Yesterday the same thing, so it’s nice to finally see something going in.”

Calgary native Jaclyn Lee, a member of Canada’s national amateur team, will be a local crowd favourite as the 19-year old shot 2-under 70 to sit with a share of 20th at 5-under.

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont. shot a 4-under 68 Friday to hold a share of 29th at 4-under, while Anne-Catherine Tanguay will also play the weekend with a share of 62nd on the 1-under cut line.

 

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