THE WRAP: Stephenson by one but stars are lurking

A blistering finish to her second round has seen American Lauren Stephenson retain her overnight lead at the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville, near Coffs Harbour. 

The second year Professional reeled off three birdies and an eagle in her final five holes to erase a double bogey at the 13th and post 64 to get to 14-under for the tournament. 

That gives her a one shot lead over World Number 34 Ayean Cho who also signed for an 8-under 64 earlier in the day. 

The tournament looked set to become a two-horse race between the pair for much of the day until 19-year-old Sydney amateur Steph Kyriacou eagled her final hole to shoot a best of the week 63 and vault to third place at 12-under. 

There is a five shot gap to the trio’s nearest challengers, England’s Charlotte Thomas, Finland’s Noora Komulainen and Sweden’s Linea Strom with another shot back to a group of six players including long hitting Anne Van Dam and two time NSW Women’s Open winner Meghan MacLaren. 

But the focus will be at the top of the leaderboard Saturday after Kyriacou’s stunning performance, a personal best for the teenager. 

“I’ve had 8 under a couple of times,” Kyriacou said after the round. “And I was actually thinking about that over the putt at the last which probably isn’t the best! 

“But when I was back in the fairway and looked down and saw all the people around the green I really wanted to have a big finish.” 

Kyriacou, a winner of several significant Amateur events, will play Saturday’s third round with Stephenson and Cho after 78 players made the cut which fell at 2-over the card. 

With such a large field qualifying for the weekend the players will tee up in groups of three with a two tee start to ensure all players finish their rounds. 

Cho is the best credentialled player in the field at 34th in the world and is a multiple winner on the prestigious Korean LPGA. 

She played in the final group at both the Women’s Australian Open and Vic Open in the last two weeks though struggled both times and slipped down the leaderboard. 

Stephenson played her rookie season on the US LPGA Tour in 2019 and credited some swing changes in the off season for her good play over the opening 36 holes. 

“I made a lot of swing changes at the end of last season and I’m finally feeling like those are paying off and I’m feeling like I’m more comfortable with them,” she said. 

“From here I’m just going to take it one shot at a time and keep doing what I’m doing. 

“At the end of the day I can’t control what anybody else does and whoever is meant to win will win.” 

Stephenson, Cho and Kyriacou will be in the final group off the first tee at 9.25am. 

Entry is free but spectators need to register at the tournament website at www.ausladiesclassic.com.au 

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