SHIGA, Japan – Local favorite Ai Suzuki shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 to take a three-stroke lead after the second round of the LPGA’s Toto Japan Classic on Saturday.
Suzuki had seven birdies at the par-72 Seta Golf Course for a 12-under 132 total. Gaby Lopez shot a 67 and was in second place in the final event of the LPGA tour's Asia swing.
''I have to shoot more than 3 under to win the tournament,'' Suzuki said. ''Usually winner scores low. Especially this week with this course, I think I have to play and score 5 to 6 under. That will be my target score tomorrow.''
Lopez finished birdie-birdie to secure a position in the final grouping on Sunday.
''It's key to be below the hole on every single green,'' Lopez said. ''Everything slopes back to front. The more you are putting uphill the more aggressive you can be.''
Australian Hannah Green, who held a share of the lead with Suzuki after the opening round on Friday, shot a 69 and was tied for third with Hyo Joo Kim (68).
''The back end of the round I felt a lot more confident and I pushed myself to make sure I finished under par,'' said Green who had three birdies on the back nine. ''It was nice to finish birdie-birdie today because I didn't do that yesterday.''
Defending champion Nasa Hataoka struggled with her game and finished with a 76 that included five bogeys and a double bogey, after an opening-round 71.
Lexi Thompson, making her first start since the Indy Women in Tech Championship in September, shot a 68 to move up the leaderboard after a first-round 74 and was 10 strokes behind Suzuki.