Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, the world’s top two players, set up the prospect of a thrilling weekend battle after the second round of the Michelob ULTRA Open at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Sweden’s Sorenstam, already a two-time winner this year, had a joint best 66 for 12-under-par 130, while Ochoa, who has extended her lead at the head of the world rankings with five victories from seven starts this year, had a 68 and shared second spot with South Korea’s Jeong Jang on nine-under.
Jang, the 2005 Women’s British Open Champion, matched Sorenstam’s five-under round while her compatriot Meena Lee was alone in fourth place on seven under after a 68.
Scotland’s Mhairi McKay, who had led by one after a first round 63, was unlucky to be in the last group out on a day when there were two weather delays. She slumped to a 77 and dropped to two under par and into a share of 33rd place.
With darkness beckoning, the Turnberry 33-year-old dropped four shots in the last six holes.
England’s Karen Stupples and Becky Morgan, the only Welsh player on the LPGA Tour, took over as the leading British players in joint fifth place. They both shot 69 to stand on six under par and six shots behind Sorenstam.
Plagued by injury last season, Sorenstam, who had opened with a 64, showed her determination to claim the number one spot back from Ochoa with a handful of birdies.
Starting from the tenth, she picked up shots at the 12th, 16th and 18th in an outward 32 and made more gains at the third and seventh. She has reached halfway without dropping a shot.
“I played really well and like my position going into the weekend,” said the 37-year-old, who won in Hawaii at the start of the year and again in Miami two weeks ago.
Ochoa also started on the back nine and matched Sorenstam’s tally of five birdies. But she dropped a shot at the fourth (her 13th) and let another one slip away at her final hole.