Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum produced a major turnaround in form to lead the field after the second round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The 28-year-old had made just one cut in eight previous starts in the championship but that did not stop her firing a second successive 67 to take a one-shot lead at the halfway stage on 10 under par.
What made her performance all the more impressive was she played all 36 holes without dropping a single shot.
Phatlum will go into the weekend holding her first lead since the 2014 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia when she went on to finish second behind Shanshan Feng.
She is one shot ahead of England’s Georgia Hall, Japan’s Mamika Higa and Australia’s Minjee Lee.
Taiwan’s Teresa Lu is in fifth place on eight under and South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park is one shot further back.
Phatlum opened her round with three straight pars but then birdied the fourth, sixth and seventh to go out in 32 before collecting further birdies at the 10th and the 16th.
The only other player in the field to play the first 36 holes without a blemish is Hall, the 2017 Ladies European Tour No. 1, who was tied for third place 12 months ago at Kingsbarns and is challenging again after adding a 68 to her opening 67.
The 22-year-old from Bournemouth began the round with eight straight pars before posting her first red number with a birdie on the ninth.
She made further advances at the 13th, 15th and 16th and will go into the weekend with the support of the home crowd behind her as she bids to become the first British champion since Catriona Matthew in 2009.
Lee had held the first round lead with a seven under par 65 and it looked for a while that she would still be out front at halfway before a double bogey on the 16th and a bogey on the 17th resulted in her posting a 70.
Higa also looked as if she might top the field before a double bogey stalled her challenge and saw her post a 70.
For the second day in row there was a hole-in-one on the ninth as Canada’s Brooke Henderson repeated the feat of England’s Florentyna Parker.
The cut fell at one over and among the players to miss out were Charley Hull, Karrie Webb and Mel Reid.