Ernst, Kupcho lead after two rounds at Golden Ocala

Austin Ernst chips her ball onto the green on the 17th hole during the first round of the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik golf tournament at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club on Thursday. Ernst and Jennifer Kupcho were tied for the lead after Friday’s second round. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
Jennifer Kupcho and Austin Ernst fired matching 67s during the first two rounds of the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik to take a 10-under two-stroke lead into the weekend at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club.

While Kupcho managed a bogey-free performance in round one, Ernst bogey free round came on Friday.

“Fairways were a little more bouncy this afternoon so had a few more wedges in,” said Ernst, who hit 15 greens. “With how firm the greens are, you really have to take advantage if you get quite a few wedge opportunities. I have driven it well, too.”

Even with one bogey on the card, Kupcho was just grateful a migraine did not rear its ugly head on Friday.

“Felt a lot better today. Yesterday was pretty rough,” said Kupcho, who recorded six birdies. “I’ve been in contention out here before, so just go out, relax and have fun. I think especially with my new caddie [Patrick Smith] this year we do a good job of having fun and relaxing. I think it’ll be a fun weekend.”

Carlota Ciganda fired the round of the day with a bogey-free, 7-under par 65 out of the morning wave. It is no coincidence that she is finding success with Terry McNamara, the long-time caddie for LPGA Tour legend and World Golf Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam.

“We had a great four years together and with COVID last year, I think he wanted to take a little break,” said Ciganda, who is 8-under overall. “I always enjoy working with him. He’s very peaceful, experienced, very calm. That is what I need on the course.”

Last week’s Gainbridge LPGA champion Nelly Korda is solo fourth at -7 following a steady 2-under 70 on day two, highlighted by three birdies. Rounding out the top-five is 2019 Symetra Tour graduate Jenny Coleman. The University of Colorado alumna carded a 3-under 69 to reach -5 overall.

The biggest part of this golf course is the greens,” Korda said. “There have been lower scores in the morning because they’re fresh and they do get bumpy in the afternoon. Greens are playing a big part in the scores, so just going to stay positive. Everyone is going to be playing through weather [tomorrow].”

Five players are tied for sixth at -4 including 2020/21 LPGA Tour rookies Patty Tavatanakit and Leona Maguire. A total of 71 players made the cut of +2 including the LPGA Drive On Championship—Inverness winner Danielle Kang (-2) and the LPGA Drive On Championship—Reynolds Lake Oconee champion Ally Ewing (E).

See the full leaderboard here

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