Golf: Kiwi Lydia Ko lurks in second halfway through season-opening Saudi Ladies Invitational

Kiwi Lydia Ko is poised two shots off the lead in a share of second at the Saudi Ladies Invitational - her first tournament of the year.

After a first-round 64 had her tied atop the leaderboard with Thai Pajaree Anannarukarn, Ko has followed that up with a three-under 69 that included six birdies and three bogeys.

The world No.1 battled strong winds on the back nine and struggled to steady herself against their force.

"I normally have a pretty wide stance for I think the width of my shoulders, but it was just getting wider and wider," she said. "I still couldn't keep my putter stable enough.

"On 16, I ended up making the putt, but hit it so far off the middle of the club face, there is probably no control in that area. It's just one of those days that you know it's going to be tough... it's tough for everyone."

Ko trails Indian Aditi Ashok, whose six-under 66 included an eagle on the par-five 18th hole, where she holed a bunker shot.

"Whenever I stepped to the ball, I just knew the ball was going in," said Ashok.  "It was just one of those days where everything works in your favour. 

"On 18, I was just trying to aim a little left, because the wind was off the left for that birdie shot. I struggled a bit on my short game in general the past three weeks, but I think my bunker shots have been the best part so far of my short game.

"I was kind of happy that I hit it two on, but I missed and I had a bunker shot.

"That was kind of the play for me. It was just a perfect shot and one of those days where the ball wants to get in the hole."

Ko is level with American Lilia Vu, while Anannarukarn has fallen off the pace with a disastrous 79 that featured nine bogeys.