Minjee Lee and Cheyenne Knight lead Mizuho Americas with Rose Zhang lurking

Minjee Lee and Cheyenne Knight lead Mizuho Americas with Rose Zhang lurking
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JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Minjee Lee matched the tournament best with an 8-under 64 for a share of the lead Friday in the LPGA Tour’s weather-delayed Mizuho Americas Open.

Cheyenne Knight had a 68 to join Lee at 7-under 137 atop the tightly bunched leaderboard in the inaugural event that features five top-10 players and promising newcomer Rose Zhang.

Play was suspended late in the afternoon for 1 hours, 47 minutes because of dangerous weather conditions near Liberty National and the last groups barely finished before darkness on the course adjacent to the Hudson River with a spectacular view of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Full-field scores from the Mizuho Americas Open

The fifth-ranked Lee, from Australia, birdied eight of the first 12 holes in a bogey-free round that moved her from 55th to the top spot. Her score was nine shots better than her opening round.

“I think Liberty National is kind of a course where if you play it more, the better idea you have,” said Lee, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour. “So, since it’s the inaugural event it’s the same for everybody.”

No. 3 Lydia Ko was a shot back after a 69.

Top-ranked Jin Young Ko (66) was 5 under with No. 6 Atthaya Thitikul (71), No. 8 Brooke Henderson (70), Aditi Ashok (72) and Zhang (69), the two-time NCAA individual champion who turned pro last week and received a sponsor’s exemption to play.

Jin Young Ko, Zhang and Ashok had less than three holes left when play was suspended at 6 p.m. ET. Ko had a birdie and bogey after play resumed. Zhang finished with three pars in her 69, a shot better than her professional debut. Ashok had a bogey in her final three holes.

Highlights: Mizuho Americas Open, Round 2

Knight, who has had three top-10 finishes this year, played her final 11 holes in 4 under.

“I think my ball-striking has really come a long way,” said Knight, who had six birdies and two bogeys. “I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways and greens, and hence I have more birdie opportunities.”

Lydia Ko, who played with Lee, has been searching for her game since a top-10 finish in Thailand in February.

“To be honest, haven’t been playing that great leading up to this week,” the 26-year-old said. “I played much better and solid on the LET event a couple weeks ago, so that was a good momentum shift. But, yeah, you know, I would say it has been a very colorful scorecard, not in a good way, not the birdie colors.”

Ashok, who has had two top-five finishes in her last three events, is looking for her first win.

Henderson, who won in Florida in January, overcame a double bogey to start to shoot a 70.

“It’s kind of been a weird year,” Henderson said. “I started out on such a high winning the first event back, and then kind of been a little up and down since then. I’m hoping to start the upward trend and have some really solid finishes here the next few weeks.”

Thitikul, who has five top-10 finishes this year, reached 7 under through 12 holes but had a double bogey at the par 5 No. 13.

Eun-Hee Ji (69) of South Korea, Bronte Law (70) and American Angel Yin (70) were 4 under.

First-round leader Lauren Hartlage was in a group at 3 under after a 76 — 11 shots more than Thursday.

Lee’s 64 was matched Friday by New Jersey native Marina Alex, who needed to go low after an 80 on Thursday.

“I played as horribly as I could play it yesterday, so I think I learned every place not to be,” said Alex, whose par total should make the cut. “It’s a tricky course, and honestly, I just think that I — it required on my end probably a little bit more prep going into yesterday.”

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