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Wie leads, Ko closes in at LPGA event

NZN 3/03/2017 Theo Katsaros

Lydia Ko is poised to contend for her first LPGA title of 2017 after climbing to a share of second place at the Women's Champions tournament in Singapore.

Kiwi world No.1 Ko mixed seven birdies with two bogeys to shoot a five-under 67 and be 12-under, two strokes behind outright leader Michelle Wie.

It is a performance out of the box from 2014 U.S. Open champion Wie, who has slumped to 179th in the rankings after an extended battle with her form and injury and needed a sponsor's invitation just to get a start this week.

"There definitely is some butterflies out there, but it's exciting getting that feeling again and being in this position," Wie said.

"It doesn't feel that long ago but I guess it is. I'm just going to not really think about that.

"It doesn't matter how long it's been since I've been in contention or anything."

Ko, who was seventh overnight, sits level with world No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand and Korean Sung Hyun Park.

By her own lofty standards 19-year-old Ko is in a title drought after last savouring LPGA success in July.

"I've been having a really good finish on the 18th hole, so it's always nice to come off with a birdie," Ko said.

"I started off really hot today. I didn't really continue the momentum after the 10th hole but I tried to hang in there."

A high-powered leaderboard features former world No.1 Inbee Park a further shot back in fifth alongside Korean compatriot Ha Na Jang, the Women's Australian Open champion.

Minjee Lee is the best-placed Australian, tied-17th at seven-under with Karrie Weeb and Sarah Jane Smith tied-55th at three-over and Su Oh 59th at five-over.

Nearly three hours of play was lost to early-afternoon rain but it didn't halt the momentum of Ko, who is playing her third tournament of the season after a relatively muted start by her standards.

The 19-year-old was 46th in Adelaide before surging home to an eighth-place finish at last week's LPGA Thailand.

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