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Angela Stanford seizes LPGA lead with 8-under 64 at Lotte Championship

KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Angela Stanford nabbed eight birdies in an eight-under par 64 on Thursday to grab the second-round lead at the LPGA Lotte Championship.

Stanford, a five-time LPGA Tour winner, improved her score from the first round by eight shots, her eight-under par total of 136 giving her a one-stroke lead over fellow American Michelle Wie.

Wie carded a bogey-free five-under par 67 at Ko Olina Golf Club for a seven-under par total of 137.

World number one Park In-Bee of South Korea, seeking her first title of 2014, carded a 68 to head a group on 138 that also included seventh-ranked South Korean Ryu So-Yeon, 16-time LPGA winner Cristie Kerr and South Korea's Kim Hyo-Joo, who is playing on a sponsor's exemption.

Ryu and Kim both carded 70s, while Kerr shot 66 to join the group sharing third.

Stanford strung together five straight birdies on the third through seventh holes, then bagged another three straight birdies at 11, 12 and 13 en route to the halfway lead in the US$1.7 million tournament.

Her 64 was Stanford's lowest round since the 2013 Marathon Classic.

“I guess it's been a while,” Stanford said. “It was nice to have today because I've had these stretches where I've played good in a round and then I'll make a bogey or two and kind of lose my focus.”

Stanford said her day “was about putting.”

“Finally I got comfortable on these greens and it felt great,” she said. “I mean, to see the ball go in that much is a lot of fun. I needed a round like that.”

It was even more welcome after Stanford tweaked a strained muscle in her right forearm. The initial injury came when she was putting her luggage on an airport cart last week.

“It hurt so bad this morning that I was just trying to make contact and get it around, and sometimes that helps because your expectations go way down,” Stanford said. “So I was really just trying to navigate my way and not be out there any longer hitting any more shots than I had to.”

Although the winds were less severe than in Wednesday's opening round, Wie said the wind was still a factor.

“It was still windy, but not crazy windy as it was yesterday afternoon,” Wie said. “I'll take five under par. I knew I could have made a couple more birdies out there on the last couple of holes, but I'll take it.”

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 Matt Kuchar shares a 3-way tie for  lead in first round of PGA Heritage 
Angela Stanford hits her first shot on the 5th hole on April 17, in Kapolei, Hawaii. (AFP)

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