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Quality putting gives Park one-stroke lead at LPGA Nabisco

The SportsXchange

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Inbee Park shot the best round of the day, a 5-under par 67, to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Friday. Park, from South Korea, is at 7-under 137.

Second-year pro, Lizette Salas is one stroke behind after posting a second-round 68. Caroline Hedwall of Sweden and Giulia Sergas of Italy are third at two strokes behind.

Park had a 3-under 33 on the front nine, while Salas, playing in the group in front posted a 1-under 35.

"I putted really good out there," Park said. "Especially on the back nine."

Salas heated up on the back nine, making three birdies and almost chipping in on the 17th for another.

"I took advantage of each putt I had," Salas said.

The most impressive hole, though, was 18. Salas got into the nearly 5-inch high rough on her second shot. Instead of trying to go for the green on the par-5 finishing hole and safely advanced the ball out, she hit a wedge to 6 feet and made the par-saving putt.

"In the past, I would have gone for it," Salas said. "I'm comfortable in my short game and I'm not a long hitter so I have to make it up some way, so I've been working hard on that."

It is part of a strategy Salas worked on in the offseason. She changed coaches and worked on thinking better around the golf course.

"I've been working on that with my instructor and making those bad rounds even par or better. I had a not very good round (Thursday), but it was minus 2. I'm keeping it simple and he's been a great help."

Park kept up her impressive round making three consecutive birdies starting at No. 11 when she hit a sand wedge to 2 feet and made the putt. She then hit 9-iron approach shots on the next two holes to 8 feet and made both of the putts.

"I think I'm good at judging the speed and the breaking of the greens," Park said.

The only mistake of the day was on No. 15 when she made her lone bogey of the round, second of the tournament.

Park noticed the wind picked up on the hole that she bogeyed and said that it affected her play the rest of the round.

"When the wind picked up it was tough out there," Park said. "The last four holes I made all pars and I'm really happy with that."

If the wind bothered Salas, she didn't admit it, though her statistics might have said otherwise. In the second round, Salas hit fewer fairways, 11 to 8, and fewer greens, 13 to 12.

Putting, though, continued to be a strength for Salas. It was her second consecutive round of 30 putts or less.

"I've worked really hard on minimizing my mistakes," Salas said. "I've minimized them to where I can still hit the green and not be in trouble."

Park improved greatly on her first-round 70. In the second round she had 10 of 14 fairways hit, three more than Thursday and had 15 greens in regulation as opposed to 11.

Park has two top 10s at this event and is confident she has enough experience to win at Mission Hills.

"I think it's good to be ahead because you're in better position than anybody else for the weekend," Park said.

NOTES: One of the biggest turnarounds was Louise Friberg. The Swedish golfer who is at the end of a five-year exemption, shot a first round 71 to get to a tie for 17. She shot a second-round 80 and missed the cut by two. ... Despite a shaky putter, Michelle Wie will be playing this weekend. Wie had 31 and 30 putts and missed a two-footer for par in the second round. ... Jodi Ewart Shadoff played so well in the second round that her husband Adam was going to surprise her and fly out to see her play. However, he ruined the surprise when he posted on Twitter he was at the Houston Airport en route to Palm Springs.

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