It seemed the harder the wind blew on Friday afternoon at The Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, California, the better 24-year-old Inbee Park played. The South Korean fired a -5 under 67 on a day that started out just hot, and turned hot and windy at a very difficult Mission Hills, Dinah Shore Tournament Golf Course.
After putting three birdies on her score card through the front nine, the wind came up as she made the turn. It continued to get tougher, but Park kept making birdies until she gave one back at the par three 14th hole. She had her score to -8 under, and would end her day at -7 under for a two-day total.
“Obviously, putted really good out there, especially on the back nine,” she said. “The wind picked up, so it was tough on the back nine.”
Inbee won her first tournament back in 2008, and it was a major at the US Women’s Open. She came on tour at 17 years old, and is in her seventh year. Last year, on the way to claiming the LPGA money and stroke average titles, she won twice, recorded six seconds and 12 top 10s in 24 events. She is one of the best putters on the LPGA Tour, and it was evident in her round on Friday.
“I don’t know,” Park said when asked to explain the difficulty. “I think it’s because of this golf course. It plays pretty tough for me. I never had a good two days. This is something new on this golf course for me and I don’t know. It’s good.”
Park has a one shot lead over American, second-year pro, Lizette Salas, with two shots over Sweden’s, Caroline Hedwell, and Italy’s Giulia Sergas. Salas and Hedwell both shot 68’s in the windy conditions, and Sergas a 69. Michelle Wie, and Christie Kerr have both shot themselves into this tournament. Wie made some fine shots on Friday, and took her goofy new putting stroke to a -2 under 70 in the wind. Both are at -2 under par, five strokes off the pace.
First round leader, Suzann Pettersen had a horrible day. She shot a 75 in the windy conditions, and dropped into a tie for 21st place at -1 under par. The world’s number one player, Stacy Lewis is continuing to dig herself out of the hole she dug on Thursday when she triple bogeyed the 14th hole. She got one back on Friday by posting a -1 under 71, but remains in a tie for 28th place at even par for the tournament. She will need to get on the birdie train if she plans to win her second major.
Conditions are forecasted to remain hot and windy when play resumes on Saturday, with a break maybe coming for Sunday’s final round. It should be a nice day for someone to take a swim in Poppies Pond.
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