American teenager Alexis Thompson owns a two-shot lead after Thursday's second round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, the season-ending event on the Ladies European Tour.
The 16-year-old Thompson, who beame the youngest LPGA Tour winner earlier this year, had six birdies en route to a bogey-free, 6-under 66 and 136 total.
“I just made a few more putts today,” Thompson said. “I hit it a little bit closer. I was just thinking ‘stay steady’ and playing consistent.”
Swedish veteran Sophie Gustafson (67) and Margherita Rigon (68) shared second place, while Julieta Granada and Becky Morgan trailed the leader by three shots.
Michelle Wie is four shots behind after a 67. The 22-year-old American, who is looking for her first win of the year, rallied after an opening-round 73. She had five birdies overall, including four on the back nine.
“I made a couple more putts,” Wie said. “I have two more days to try and shoot some more low scores.”
Overnight leader Lotta Wahlin of Sweden needed eight more strokes on Thursday, scoring a 74.
Thompson got her short game working after finishing 16th in the first round. She hit a lob wedge within 10 feet of the pin on the second hole and sent a 178-yard iron shot on the next hole within 15 feet to birdie both.
Thompson has started to match the hype that has surrounded her arrival on the tour, winning the Navistar LPGA Classic by five strokes in September.
A victory in Dubai would make her the second-youngest winner on the European Tour after Amy Yang of South Korea, who won the ANZ Masters in 2006 at 16 years, 191 days. That is just over five months younger than Thompson.
“This is such a great tournament and it would be an honor to win this,” Thompson said. “So I’m jut going to try and take it easy and play one shot at a time.”
Wie also got her start on the LPGA Tour at 16 -- turning pro two years ago.
However, she has struggled to meet expectations, winning only twice on the LPGA Tour and this year falling to 17th in the rankings because of nagging injuries and a drop in form.
On Thursday, Wie had a bogey-free round and made several key birdie putts, including a 30-footer on No. 12.
“A little frustrated after the last two holes, but I kept steady out there today,” said Wie, who missed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 18. “I’m still in contention, and going to go out there tomorrow, shoot another low round.”
Playing alongside Wie, the 38-year-old Gustafson is also looking for her first victory of the year. She was five shots back after the first day, but had five birdies in a bogey-free second round.
“I was striking the ball very well, so it feels good,” Gustafson said. “I was actually hitting the ball awful on Tuesday during the pro-am, but the Swedish coaches that are here this week from the Swedish Golf Federation helped me find my ball striking.”
Four-time major winner Laura Davies (81) continued to struggle in Dubai. The 48-year-old Englishwoman will miss the cut for the second week in a row.
She made an early exit at the Indian Open -- only the fourth time she had missed a cut on tour -- after her caddie failed to show up for the first round because of visa problems. She carried her own bag and shot 3 over the first day.
This week, Davies said her problems came down to poor play. Needing a sub-par round Thursday for any chance to play into the weekend, Davies had three bogeys and two double bogeys on the front nine to end her chances.
“I started nicely. Three-putted the first and had an eagle chance on 3 and just missed it,” Davies said. “On the fourth hole, I hit what I thought was a good chip and it went in the water. Triple bogey, 6 over. The cut is obviously going to be 1 or 2 (over) and that is a long ways back from there.”