Michelle Wie has been playing LPGA events since she burst onto the scene in 2003 as a 13-year old phenom, and now is among the leaders after two rounds of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, CA. Wie fired a one-under par 71 on Friday to go with her first-round 67 and currently sits one shot out of the lead midway through the tournament at six under par.
The bad news for Wie is that she has two very good golfers in front of her heading into the third round of the LPGA’s first major of the year. The biggest move of the day came from 19-year old Lexi Thompson, who scorched the course with eight birdies and no bogeys on her way to an 8-under 64. She needed that, as she began the day one over par after Thursday’s 73. Thompson said she was simply trying to “stay in the moment” and not think about the outstanding score she was shooting on the Mission Hills Country Club course. It was the best round of the day, and pulled her into a tie atop the leaderboard.
Right beside her at the top is Se Ri Pak. The veteran South Korean golfer had 67 on Thursday and played steady all day on Friday, with 16 pars and two birdies on her scorecard. First round leader Shanshan Feng had a share of the lead late into the day until making bogeys on her final two holes. She ended up with 73 to fall back to fourth place, one stroke behind Wie at five under for the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Tied with Pak is American Cristie Kerr, who followed a 69 on Thursday with a 70 on Friday. Kerr fought back from a bogey on her second hole to card 3 birdies for the remainder of the round. She said after her round that the bogey made her kind of mad, and that it “jump-started me for the rest of the round.”
Three golfers are tied for sixth after the second day of competition. Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and American Morgan Pressel are at four under par. Pressel had, by far, the most exciting day. Her scorecard included five birdies, a bogey and a double bogey for a hard-earned two under par 70. Matthew had a clean round with four birdies and a 68.
For the first two rounds, the comeback player of the tournament is American Gerina Pillar. After a five-over 77 on Thursday, and in danger of missing the cut, Pillar actually put herself in contention with a seven-under 65 on Friday. She had five birdies in her first nine holes and cruised with two more birdies coming in. She is tied with seven other golfers at two under par for the tournament.
The final two rounds of the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championships look to be good ones as Wie looks to return to form and get her first major championship. She will have plenty of competition at Rancho Mirage, as six of the top eight players on the leaderboard are major champions. The only other player in that group to have not won a major is one of the co-leaders, Lexi Thompson.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky