Hinako Shibuno, The Smiling Cinderella, is in contention at another major championship after shooting the low round of the week.

The 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno tied the low round of the week with a six-under-par 66 to sit one shot clear at the top of The Chevron Championship leaderboard at nine-under-par.

Shibuno, who is making her third appearance at Mission Hills Country Club, carded seven birdies and a bogey on the day, with five of her birdies coming in her first nine holes.

This is the second time the Japanese player has led a major through 36 holes, the last time being at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica.

After her round Shibuno said:

“My game, golf game is not a lot different than I won 2019 British Open, but my personality is not different at all. I'm swinging harder on the tee shot [at this course] and make more, you know, decent shot on the second shot. Yeah. The rough, it's a power from the rough.”

Defending champion tied for second

Annie Park The Cheveron Championship
Annie Park - image credit LPGA/Getty Images

Chasing the Japanese superstar are 2021 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Jennifer Kupcho, LPGA Tour winner Annie Park and defending champion Patty Tavatanakit, all tied for second one shot back at -eight-under-par. Park’s 67 is her lowest 18 holes since the 2021 ShopRite LPGA Classic, her second event back after taking a two-month break from golf, while Kupcho netted her fifth bogey-free round of the season.

Kupcho said:

“It's just exciting to be here. This is our last time here, so it's just special to be here. And all the history that's been made here, really just go out and play my best. I can't control what anybody else is doing. Just try and keep myself calm.”

Tavatanakit’s second position is the best 36-hole showing by a defending champion at The Chevron Championship since 2011 and she was one of only 10 people to birdie 17 on Friday in Rancho Mirage.

Hall still leads the British players

Lexi Thompson The Chevron Championship ROund 2
Lexi Thompson - image credit LPGA/Getty Images

Major champions Sei Young Kim and Hyo Joo Kim both recorded five-under-par 67s to sit in a tie for fifth at seven-under-par. Recent Rolex First-Time Winner Nanna Koerstz Madsen and two-time Tour winner Ally Ewing are tied for seventh at six-under-par, while seven players are tied for ninth at five-under-par, including 2014 Chevron champion Lexi Thompson and 2018 AIG Women’s Open Champion Georgia Hall.

Hall, who is the top placed English player said:

“I played really well again. Very steady. Really bummed about my two bogeys. I was trying to get bogey-free again. But the pins were a little bit trickier today. I think I'm only a few shots off the lead, so still happy with my round today. Just two three-putts today with my two bogeys, and my long game is really good. Actually, I haven't holed a lot first few days and still made good scores, so a lot of confidence going into the weekend.”

World number one Jin Young Ko rebounded after a first-round 74 with a 4-under 68 and is currently T29. The 2019 champion joins 74 others who made the cut at one-over-par.

View The Chevron Championship full leaderboard here.