Lexi Thompson of the US plays a tee shot at the LPGA ANA Inspiration, in Rancho Mirage, California, on April 1, 2017Lexi Thompson of the US plays a tee shot at the LPGA ANA Inspiration, in Rancho Mirage, California, on April 1, 2017 (AFP Photo/Jeff Gross)
Former champion Lexi Thompson fired six birdies in a five-under-par 67 to emerge from a marathon on Saturday with a two-shot lead in the LPGA ANA Inspiration.
Thompson's 13-under total of 203 put her two in front of Norway's Suzann Pettersen going into Sunday's final round of the year's first major championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
Thompson was among some 50 players who had to return Saturday morning to complete the second round, the knock-on effect of the delays for high winds on Thursday.
The disruption did Thompson no harm as she produced back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth -- her 16th and 17th holes of the second round en route to a 67 and the 36-hole lead.
Thompson, the 2014 winner, kept the momentum going through a long afternoon. Birdies at the second and third were followed by a bogey at the fourth, but she put together three birdies in a row at the ninth, 10th and 11th before picking up one more stroke at 16.
"I struggled a little bit off the tee and had a few more rushed shots than I wanted, but overall a lot of positives," Thompson said.
"Never complain about a five-under par round and hopefully get a few more putts to roll in tomorrow. I'm just going to go out there and play my own game, just focus on one shot at a time and doing my routine like I have been the last three days."
Pettersen nabbed her sixth birdie of the round at the 18th, capping a 68 for sole possession of second place on 205.
It was a further stroke back to South Korea's Hur Mi-Jung, Ryu So-Yeon and Park In-Bee and Australian Minjee Lee on 206.
Hur rocketed up the leaderboard with a seven-under-par 65 that included eight birdies.
Rio Olympic gold medalist Park, whose seven major titles include the 2013 ANA Inspiration, had five birdies in a four-under 68. Lee also signed for a 68 while Ryu, playing in the last group, carded a 69.
Ariya Jutanugarn, the Thai talent who has Lydia Ko's world number one ranking in her sights, was in a group sharing seventh place on 208.
Ariya's four-under 68 was highlighted by an eagle at the par-five 11th, with five birdies also offsetting three early bogeys.
Ariya, who suffered a final round collapse in the tournament last year to with the title begging, said she plans to take a relaxed approached.
"Tomorrow I think it's going to be a tough day," she said. "Final round, I just want to go have fun and enjoy every shot I hit the ball."
Ariya was joined on eight-under by France's Karine Icher (68) and Americans Cristie Kerr (70) and Michelle Wie (71).
Wie had back-to-back birdies at the second and third but couldn't build on that. She bogeyed the ninth and battled a sore back as she parred her way in.
"I just hit one shot that was a little out of synch," Wie said, adding that playing 28 holes and going through two warm-ups during the day had taken a toll.
She said a visit with the physio and a good night's rest would set her up for Sunday.
"I'll be good," she vowed.
Defending champion Ko didn't make much headway with a one-under 71.
Ko had two birdies and a bogey for a share of 11th place on five-under par 211.