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Early start puts Kim, McPherson ahead of pack

AMERICANS Christina Kim and Kristy McPherson took advantage of favorable morning conditions to grab a share of the lead in Friday's wind-swept second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, California.

Kim, known for her flamboyant clothing, birdied the last two holes for a three-under 69, setting the pace with McPherson (70) in the first women's major of the year.

The pair ended their rounds at Mission Hills Country Club as the winds began to gust up to 65 kilometers per hour, removing limbs from a few trees and blowing palm fronds across some of the fairways.

"I was very fortunate with that draw," Kim, 25, told reporters after posting a six-under total of 138.

"I remember Tuesday they said there was going to be some ridiculous winds, like 40 miles an hour gusts Friday and whatnot, and I just had my fingers crossed."

Former US Open champion Cristie Kerr fired a best-of-the-day 68 to finish at five-under, one ahead of US compatriot and first-round leader Brittany Lincicome (74). South Korea's Kang Ji-min (70) and Australian Lindsey Wright (71) were a further stroke adrift at three-under.

Mexican world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, who cruised to victory last year by five shots, was eight off the pace after carding a second successive 73 while American teenager Michelle Wie made the cut right on the number after battling to an 81.

Kim, a double winner on the LPGA Tour whose last victory was at the 2005 Tournament of Champions, made a fast start with four birdies in the first nine holes to reach the turn in four-under 32.

Although the popular Korean-American slipped back with bogeys at the 10th, 13th and 14th, she finished in style after hitting a six-iron to 12 feet at the 17th and a wedge to five feet at the last.

McPherson, playing her third season on the LPGA Tour, mixed four birdies with two bogeys to join Kim at the top of the leaderboard.

"I've been hitting the ball well and giving myself a lot of opportunities," the 27-year-old said. "On this golf course, you've got to make a lot of pars and that's what I've been doing, staying away from mistakes."

The cut fell at eight-over 152 with 19-year-old Hawaiian Wie scraping through after carding a topsy-turvy 81 that featured three birdies and three double-bogeys.


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