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Maja Stark maintains one-stroke lead in Shanghai

Sweden’s Maja Stark leads two-time champion Danielle Kang and home-country favorite Yu Liu of China by one stroke after two rounds at the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Stark kept ahold of her first-round lead and moved to 10-under with a 2-under 68 in Friday’s second round at the 6,672-yard Qizhong Garden Golf Club. She finished one stroke off the tournament’s 36-hole record of 134.

Kang, who won the last two titles here in 2018-19 prior to the pandemic, and Liu both carded scores of 67. Another shot back at 8-under are Spain’s Azahara Munoz (66 Thursday), Japan’s Yuna Nishimura (67) and Pavarisa Yoktuan of Thailand (68).

Stark is seeking her first victory since winning her maiden LPGA title at the 2022 ISPS Handa World Invitational.

“I think I played a little bit better than yesterday actually because I hit better shots. Obviously didn’t make as many putts as I did yesterday, but overall my game felt better,” said Stark, who recorded five birdies with one bogey at the par-3 seventh hole after missing the green.

Stark said she was looking forward to playing with Kang and Liu on Saturday.

“I’m really excited to play with (Liu). On her home soil I think she’s going to be ready to play really well,” Stark said. “Her home course, I didn’t actually know that, but I feel like I could maybe get some tips because it’s pretty tricky out there. Maybe I’ll steal some of her strategies.”

After one birdie and one bogey through eight holes Thursday, Liu birdied five of the next six holes — four straight from Nos. 11-14 — to join the final grouping.

“To be honest, pretty low expectations coming in because I’m not good at playing in the rain, so I knew the forecast was pretty much going to rain all throughout the round, which it did,” Liu said. “So I just feel like — my goal today was just to get through the round without making too much damage. I feel like I did a pretty good job.”

Liu tied for ninth in 2018 and tied for third in 2019 in the first two editions of the event.

Kang finished strong with four birdies in her last six holes.

“I have hit some good drives,” Kang said. “Keep giving myself some good opportunities it be able to hit the second shots and stuff, so game has been feeling good for a little bit.”

First-round co-leader Wichanee Meechai shot 72 to slip into a six-way tie for eighth at 6-under. World No. 1 Lilia Vu is tied for 14th at 5-under after a second-round 67 with seven birdies and two bogeys.

–Field Level Media

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