By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Yuka Saso limped home with a 1-over-par 73 and skidded to a share of 29th in the second round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida Friday.
Saso had five birdies but these were not enough to offset the four bogeys and a double-bogey she made that typified her struggles this time, leaving her 9 shots off new leader Celine Boutier of France.
The Frenchwoman was steady as she fired six of her eight birdies on the back nine on the way to a second straight 65 for a 130 total and a four-shot lead over Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, Australian Minjee Lee and American Mina Harigae.
World No. 1 Nelly Korda and overnight leader Lee6 Jeong-eun were tied on 135 alongside England’s Georgia Hall and South Korean Ji Eun-hee.
Saso, who started the round two strokes behind Lee after shooting a 66, putted 29 times and had an average driving distance of 304 yards.
Saso was tied by Ryann O’Toole (67), Lizette Salas (69), Madelene Sagstrom (70), Hsu Wei-Ling (73) and Hannah Green (73).
Boutier was even par through eight but caught fire with back-to-back birdies on the 9th and 10th holes then added two more birdies at 12 and 13 — where she chipped in from in front of the green.
After picking up a shot at the 15th, she closed with another brace of birdies at 17 and 18 to pad her lead. (With a report from AFP)