Inbee Park took the second-round lead Friday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif., making three birdies in a row early on the back nine and rebounding from a wind-blown bogey with four consecutive pars.
Finishing in gusty conditions on another hot afternoon at Mission Hills, the 24-year-old South Korean player shot a 5-under 67 to reach 7 under.
“Obviously, putted really good out there, especially on the back nine,” Park said. “The wind picked up, so it was tough out there on the back nine. Last four holes, I made all pars. I’m really happy with that.”
American Lizette Salas was a stroke back after a 68, and Sweden’s Carolina Hedwall and Italy’s Giulia Sergas followed at 5 under. Hedwall shot 68, and Sergas had a 69.
Park is seeking her second major title after winning the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open Championship. She won the LPGA Thailand in February for her fourth LPGA Tour victory when 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a 2-stroke lead.
“I just like to stay a little quiet and just do my own thing,” Park said. “If I win a little more, I think I’ll get a little bit more attention.”
Park hit a sand wedge from 70 yards to 2 feet for birdie on the par-5 11th to take the lead at 5 under, then hit 9-iron approaches to 7 feet on the next two holes to set up two more birdies.
The wind pushed her tee shot on the par-3 14th into the left bunker, leading to her lone bogey of the day, and she avoided further trouble on the final four holes.
Rory McIlory found the groove he was looking for when he made the last-minute decision to sign up for the Texas Open in San Antonio.
McIlroy matched the low round of the day with a 5-under par 67 and moved within 3 shots of the lead. The world’s No. 2 golfer had seven birdies — including his final three holes — and overcame a bogey on No. 9 after driving into the rough and catching his left shin on a nearby cactus.
The 23-year-old two-time major winner is 3 shots back of leader Billy Horschel, who birdied his last two holes to post his second consecutive 4-under 68.
A group of three players — Daniel Summerhays, Charley Hoffman and Steven Bowditch — are 2 shots back at 6 under.