Inbee Park notched six birdies in a five-under-par 67 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the halfway mark of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the LPGA season.
Park, seeking to add a second major title to her resume, had a seven-under total of 137 for a one-shot lead over American Lizette Salas.
Salas carded a four-under 68 at Mission Hills and her total of 138 put her one stroke in front of Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall (68) and Italian Giulia Sergas (59).
Park started the day two shots off the overnight lead shared by England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff, South Korean Choi Na-yeon and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.
Birdies at the third, fifth and ninth saw her take sole possession of the lead, and she put together a burst of three birdies in a row from the 11th before a bogey at 14 slowed her a bit.
“Obviously [I] putted really good out there, and especially on the back nine,” said Park, who won the 2008 Women’s US Open. “The wind picked up so it was tough out there on the back nine.”
“I’ve played this golf course about eight years in my career and never really had a chance on the weekend, so I’m happy to be in the mix,” Park said.
Salas was one-under for her round through nine, but made three birdies in five holes coming in to move within a stroke of Park.
She could not get any closer, however, finishing with three straight pars.
“It’s something that I’ve kind of trained my mind in the last six months, playing solid golf and being in contention last week and the week before, so I’m just trying to get used to it as fast as I can,” Salas said.
Ewart Shadoff was the lone member of the first round’s leading trio who was not over par for the day.
She had two birdies and two bogeys in her even-par 72.
Choi endured a difficult day, her three birdies countered by four bogeys and a double-bogey six at the par-four sixth hole in a three-over 75
Pettersen was also three-over for the day, with four bogeys and a birdie.
Defending champion Yoo Sun-young carded a 76 on Friday and missed the cut with a 36-hole total of 153.
American Stacy Lewis, playing her first major since taking over the world No. 1 ranking from Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, carded a 71 for an even-par total of 144.
Tseng’s 75 dropped her to a tie for 52nd on 147, the same score as compatriot Candie Kung, who went round in 72.
New Zealand teen Lydia Ko had three bogeys and one birdie in a 74 for 146.
Additional reporting by staff writer