Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Jennifer Rosales rises to top at Open

US WOMEN'S OPEN The 25-year-old Filipino star shot a 4-under 67 to take the lead during Round 2 on the Orchards Golf Club course in South Hadley, Massachusetts

AP , SOUTH HADLEY, MASSACHUSETTS, LEMONT, ILLINOIS, STRAFFAN, IRELAND

Jennifer Rosales of the Philippines tees off on the third hole during the second day of the US Women's Open at The Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Massachusetts, Friday. Rosales had a 5-under 137 total as she rose to the top of the leader board.

PHOTO: EPA

Jennifer Rosales finally figured out how to win on the LPGA Tour. Now she's trying to win the most prestigious women's tournament of all.

Two months after her breakthrough victory in the Chick-fil-A, the 25-year-old Filipino star shot a 4-under 67 on Friday to take the second-round lead in the US Women's Open.

"It gave me confidence I can win out here with some of the top players," Rosales said.

She opened with three straight birdies and closed with a 12-foot birdie putt for a one-stroke lead over fellow University of Southern California alums Candie Kung and Kim Saiki.

Kung and Saiki, the Rochester LPGA winner last week, shot 68s.

Rosales had a 5-under 137 total to top a major championship leaderboard for the second time in a month. She also led after the first round of the LPGA Championship, but couldn't keep up with Annika Sorenstam the rest of the way.

"Hopefully, this weekend will be different," said Rosales, the 1998 NCAA college champion.

Sorenstam (68), Carin Koch (67) and Michelle Ellis (69) were two strokes back at 3 under, and Rachel Teske (69) and Moira Dunn (67) followed at 2 under on the Orchards Golf Club course.

No one had a wilder time Friday than 14-year-old Michelle Wie. She hit a spectator with her tee shot on No. 10 and had to play out of poison ivy after driving into the woods on No. 14.

But she compensated with enough dynamic shots for a 70, leaving her only four strokes back in a group that included 17-year-old amateur Paula Creamer (69).

Brittany Lincicome, the 18-year-old Florida amateur who led an after opening 66, dropped six strokes back after a 77.

Kelly Robbins also had a wild round.

She drove into the left rough on No. 15 and punched under the trees and into the cup for an eagle, capping a four-hole stretch she played in 5 under.

Robbins followed that with three straight bogeys, then nearly holed out a sand wedge to end her roller-coaster round of 67 that left her tied with Wie, Creamer and Pat Hurst (71) at 1 under.

"To keep myself in the ballgame today was great," Robbins said.

Two-time champion Juli Inkster shot her second straight 71 to top a four-player group at even par. "Thirty-six holes is a lot of golf at a US Open," Inkster said. "I like my position."

The one constant came from the best player in the game.

Sorenstam, who won the LPGA Championship three weeks ago in a 36-hole Sunday finale, missed only one green and one fairway, the kind of golf that usually wins the US Women's Open.

"I think I'm in good position. I'm happy at this point," said Sorenstam, one of 75 players who had to return Friday morning to finish the first round.

"I'm trying to stay really calm, and I think one of the things that's good for me is that I'm tired."

Wie, who continues to draw the largest galleries at Orchards, never allowed herself to get on a roll. Powerful drives set up easy birdies, but she gave strokes back with wayward tee shots.

She drilled her second shot on the par-5 13th into 25 feet and squatted inches from the ground when it grazed the lip. That put her at 3 under, closing in on the lead. But her tee shot on the next hole hooked so sharply to the left that Wie hit a provisional in case it was unplayable.

It was in play -- sort of.

"I thought my ball was lost," she said. "But I was in poison ivy. And I was like, 'Can I get relief from that please?' But I didn't get relief. I just punched out."

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