World No 1 Ariya Jutanugarn will take a formidable four-shot lead into Friday’s third round at the Blue Bay LPGA in Hainan Island.
Jutanugarn started the day one shot off the lead at the challenging Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course but finished it way out in front thanks to an impressive four-under-par 68 that took her total to seven under par.
The 22-year-old Thai star was one of only two players to break 70 on a brutal difficult day for scoring, and only eight players in the 78-woman field currently find themselves under par.
Jutanugarn coped with the challenging conditions beautifully, however, mixing seven birdies with three bogeys to create some serious distance between herself and everyone else.
She would have been particularly happy by the way she bounced back from back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth holes with a trio of birdies from the seventh.
Jutanugarn’s sister Moriya is one of three players tied for second place on three under after a 71, the others being American Jennifer Song and Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, who both shot 71s too.
South Korea’s Chella Choi follows a shot further back, while home favourite Weiwei Zhang is among those on one under, six back.
The Northern Irishman needs to win to reclaim the world number one spot from Jon Rahm.
The 56-year-old, who is already the oldest winner on Tour, shot a 64 to claim a share of second place.
Rory McIlroy is excited about the jam-packed schedule that lies ahead.
The American is now sixth in the world rankings.
The world number 89 blamed a new putter as he laboured to a closing round of 77 at the British Masters.
Rahm replaced Rory McIlroy at the top of the rankings following his victory in the Memorial Tournament.
Seven years of hard work paid off in spectacular fashion for Michael Thompson at the 3M Open on Sunday.
Thompson carded birdies at the 16th and the last to secure his second PGA Tour win of his career.
Tom Lewis, the only Briton to make the cut, will start the final round eight shots off the lead.
The 23-year-old won a second European Tour title.