Lee keeps her nose in front at Woburn

South Korea’s Mirim Lee followed her opening 62 with a 71 on the Marquess’ Course at Woburn Golf Club on Friday to stay ahead at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, although compatriot Ha Na Jang caught her at 11-under-par after six birdies in 14 holes late in the day.

Leading by three overnight, Lee, the world number 31, made a nervous start when she pulled her tee shot slightly on the first hole, but she quickly settled down and carded a pair of birdies on the fourth and seventh holes.

Although she bogeyed 13, she recovered with a third birdie on 15, before dropping a shot on the short 17th.

“I felt a little bit of nervousness but after a couple of holes, I forgot about it. I think a little bit of nervousness is what makes you play well,” said Lee, who holds a one-stroke lead over China’s Shanshan Feng and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand.

Feng, who almost missed her tee time on Thursday after rushing to the tee, fired five birdies in the first 10 holes of her second round to catch Lee on 11 under, but then bogeyed 12 and 14 before ending with a birdie on 18.

Jutanugarn followed a 65 with a 69 containing four birdies and just one dropped shot. Looking for her first Major after one win on the LET and three victories on the LPGA in May, she said: “I think I learned how to play under pressure, how to play, really excited, I know how to play. I really want to focus on what I’m doing and what I can control,” adding that she uses a smile as part of her pre-shot routine to relax before every shot.

Catriona Matthew, who will represent Team GB at the Rio Olympic Games in a fortnight, roared into contention with a seven-under-par 65 to sit at nine-under-par at the halfway mark. 

She is targeting a second Major after winning the 2009 championship at Royal Lytham.

The 2014 champion at Royal Birkdale, Mo Martin of the United States fired a second successive round of 68 to sit in third on eight-under, with fellow American Stacy Lewis, who won the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open at St Andrews on seven-under. 

South Korea’s Sei Young Kim and the three-time championship winner Karrie Webb of Australia, who won at Woburn in 1995, both finished at six-under-par.

After an early start time of 7.14am, local player Charley Hull rallied back from a pair of bogeys on the third and sixth, with five birdies in six holes from the seventh, but dropped a third shot at the 16th in a second round of 70 to lie six shots off the pace in a group on five-under-par.

Hull seemed to feel affected by being put on the clock. “Well, it was like when it was raining, so it kind of made me rush. And then I bogeyed 16," she said. "And then after I missed the putt — they were like, oh, you have to putt now. It was a bit pointless, but it’s stuff that you’ve got to deal with.”

There were 76 players inside the projected cut mark of one over par.