2 contenders at Kraft Nabisco
By John Nicholson, AP
April 6, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
RANCHO MIRAGE, California--Lexi Thompson found a putting touch to match her power game Friday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The 19-year-old Thompson, already a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 at Mission Hills for a share of the second-round lead with South Korea's Se Ri Pak.
“This is my favorite tournament of the year,” Thompson said. “It's so beautiful, like really nice weather, and the fans are amazing.”
Thompson had only 25 putts after taking 35 in a first-round 73.
“I just had a little bit of speed issues yesterday,” Thompson said. “I didn't really commit to my lines and I came up short a lot. I just went out today and picked my line and sped up my tempo a little bit and went up to it and said, 'I'm going to knock it in.'”
Pak birdied the final hole for a 70 to match Thompson at 7-under 137 in the first major championship of the year. The 36-year-old South Korean player won the last of her five major titles in 2006 and has 25 LPGA Tour victories.
“Everything has just been really solid,” Pak said. “I kept it fairways, greens, always the goal every hole. I had a lot of opportunities, but putting is not as good as yesterday. Still, just really smooth, solid round. I'm really happy about the way I finished.”
Michelle Wie was a stroke back after a 71.
“I'm really excited,” Wie said. “It's fun being near the top of the leaderboard. But try not to look forward too much. It's a long way 'til Sunday.”
Thompson birdied eight of the last 13 holes after opening with five pars.
“I was just trying to stay in the moment and focus on each shot, not really think about what I was shooting,” Thompson said. “I had the same confidence over every shot, just committing to my line and just being confident.”
She made a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the par-3 17th — her eighth hole — and two-putted for birdie after reaching the par-5 18th in two.
Thompson holed a breaking 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first, made a 4-footer on the par-4 third and ran in a 20-foot putt on the par-4 fourth after slashing out from under a tree in the left rough. She added an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4 seventh and closed with a 10-footer on the par-5 ninth after hitting into the greenside bunker in two.
“I'm really comfortable with the golf course,” Thompson said. “I get to hit a lot of drivers, so I just aim up the right side and hit my little draw.”