Diaz retains three-shot lead
American Laura Diaz goes into the third round of the USLPGA Tour's Marathon Classic with a three-shot lead after shooting a two-under 69 on Friday.
Diaz, who is seeking her third career win on the LPGA Tour, but first in 12 years, birdied three of her last four holes to give her a three-shot advantage over Lydia Koa and Lee-Anne Pace.
New Zealand teenager Ko shot a second straight four-under 67 to move into a share of second place with South Africa's Pace (68) at eight under.
Canada's Rebecca Lee-Bentham (67) and South Korea's Ryu So-Yeon (67) are in fourth at seven-under, four shots adrift of Diaz. Brittany Lang (66) and Kayla Mortellaro (67) are six-under.
Diaz opened her second round with five straight pars before making a bogey at the sixth.
The New Yorker parred her next six holes before pouring in birdies at the 13th, 15th and 16th around a bogey at the 14th to reclaim the outright lead at 10-under.
Diaz closed out her round with another birdie at the 18th to claim a three-shot lead heading into the weekend.
She has led this event three times (2002, 2003 and 2009) after two rounds but each time has faded from sight on the weekend.
Diaz commented: "For me, it was just a challenge because I haven't been in this position in a very long time. For sure I haven't had cameras on me in a long time. So I was anxious for them to go away I think in a funny kind of way."
The 39-year-old's only previous wins on the Tour were both in 2002 at the Welch's Championship and the Corning Classic.
Ko, 17, started her round on the back nine and parred her first two holes before converting three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the 12th to jump to seven-under.
"I had two solid rounds. I thought I played pretty solid today and yesterday," Ko said. "Hopefully I can continue that through the weekend."
Pace, of Paarl, Western Cape, made bogey at the 11th and 15th which dropped her back to minus-six. She rebounded with consecutive birdies at the 17th and 18th to finish at minus-eight.
Defending champion Beatriz Recari (68) is among a group of seven players tied for 14th place at four-under 138.