(Reuters) - South Korean Inbee Park fired a five-under 67 to surge into a one-shot lead after the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the women’s golf season on Friday.
The 2008 U.S. Open champion notched six birdies and just a lone bogey to move to seven-under for the tournament at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage California, one clear of American Lizette Salas.
“I‘m very happy with my play today on a tough golf course I think I handled myself very well especially with the wind,” Park told reporters.
”The back nine was pretty tough but I hit the ball where I wanted to and I putted very well today so that’s why I got a good score today.
“I‘m really excited that I could play for a win this weekend,” she added. “That’s just something really special but I‘m not trying to think too far ahead, there are two more rounds so hopefully I can do my best and it’s going to be enough.”
Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall (68) and Italian Giulia Sergas (69) share third at five-under.
Salas enjoyed plenty of local support and managed five birdies to one bogey as she stayed on the heels of Park.
Salas has three top-10 finishes this season and is hoping to ride her form to a maiden major championship.
“I‘m very pleased. I’ve been pleased with my ball striking all week,” she said.
”I missed a few short putts on the front nine and I knew the wind was going to kick in on my back nine so I just really tried to stay patient and focus on dialing in those irons.
“I‘m looking forward to more birdies. It’s nice to be in contention at a major but I can only take it one shot at a time.”
Overnight leaders Choi Na-yeon and Suzann Pettersen both struggled to three-over 75s to drop back to one-under and a tie for 21st while world number one Stacy Lewis carded a 71 to be even-par and tied for 28th seven shots off the pace.
“I did a lot of good things but the score just didn’t really show it,” Lewis said. “I‘m only a few back going into the weekend and on this golf course I‘m right in it.”
Writing by Ben Everill; Editing by Ian Ransom