Two years after winning the US Women’s Open, Cristie Kerr positioned herself for a repeat by taking a one-stroke lead after Friday’s second round.
The 31-year-old American strung together three birdies on the front nine in a round of one-under 70 for a two-round total of three-under 139, putting her a shot ahead of compatriot Paula Creamer.
Kerr overcame a bout of lightheadedness at the start and had one of only six rounds under par on the tough Saucon Valley Country Club layout, offsetting four bogeys with five birdies.
The focus Friday was back on golf at an event that has been overshadowed all week by a dispute between LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens and more than a dozen top players who have called for her resignation.
The players were more concerned with the narrow fairways and speedy undulating greens as the cut line fell at nine-over.
Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, the world No. 2, shot an eight-over 79 to finish her second round on 14-over, missing the cut. Compatriots Teresa Lu and Candie Kung will play the full weeekend after Lu shot a two-under 69 to sit tied for 14th on three-over, while Kung slipped down to tied 37th place after a six-over 77.
Kerr moved around the course with the confidence that only a major winner can display.
Kerr opened with a bogey and four pars. She began feeling better on the 13th — she started on the back nine — and hit her stride on the 15th through the 17th.
She rolled in putts of nine feet, three feet and eight feet for her run of birdies and, after a pair of bogeys to open her back nine, made birdie putts of 15 feet and 12 feet on the way in to maintain the lead.
Creamer carded a three-under 68 after an opening 72. She had overcome a thumb injury that forced her to miss the previous two tournaments.
Creamer, 22, started the day one-over, before back-to-back birdies at nine and 10. Her round included five birdies, two bogeys.
Futures Tour player Jean Reynolds is third after a 72 for a one-under 141. A two-time winner this year on the Futures Tour, she overcame hitting just nine of 14 fairways to remain in contention.
First-round leader Choi Na-yeon of South Korea shot a three-over 74 and was tied with Giulia Sergas of Italy at even-par. Sergas had the lowest round of the day, a four-under 67.
Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa struggled to a round of eight-over 79 and stood at six-over for the championship.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER