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Rookie Nordqvist snatches lead

SWEDISH rookie Anna Nordqvist rolled in a 36-foot birdie putt on her last hole to grab a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock on Friday.

The tall Swede began the sunny day at Havre de Grace, Maryland, one shot behind overnight leader Nicole Castrale, but leapfrogged the American with a two-under 70 for an eight-under 136 total.

Castrale climbed back from a stumbling start for even-par 72. Starting from the 10th, she double-bogeyed the par-three 12th and bogeyed 14 before rallying with three birdies.

Australians Lindsey Wright and Katherine Hull were tied for third at six-under 138 after shooting 68 and 69, respectively. "It feels great," Nordqvist told reporters. "I'm having a lot of fun so far."

The Swede, who also began at 10, charged to a three-shot lead after her third birdie of the round at the 17th but a pair of bogeys dropped her into a tie before her stunning birdie at the ninth.

Nordqvist, who turned 22 on the eve of the tournament, is playing in her first major championship as a professional.

"I'm just going to go out there and have fun," said Nordqvist, a former Arizona State University player, who has been hitting it long off the tee and putting like a dream at Bulle Rock. "I'm here to learn, that's what I'm out here for."

Castrale said the wind was a little trickier and the pin placements were tougher on Friday.

"I didn't quite have it today but I was able to grind it out and get back to even par for the round."

The South Korean trio of Bae Kyeong, Han Hee-won and Choi Na-yeon were tied for fifth at five-under 139.

World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa of Mexico, seeking to add a third crown to her quest for a career grand slam, pushed her way onto the leaderboard by posting a three-under 69 for 141.

"I am very happy with my round today, and I feel very good," said Ochoa, who stood five shots off the pace. "I gave myself a lot of birdie chances. A few putts didn't drop, but I'm happy. I am right where I want to be."

Less satisfied was last year's winner Tseng Yani of Chinese Taipei, whose 71 left her at level par, along with world no. 3 Paula Creamer and big-hitting Michelle Wie.

Seventy-eight players made the cut, set at three-over par.

Missing by one were major championship winners Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome, and Christina Kim who slumped to a 77 in the second round.

China's Feng Shanshan, who shot a 67 on Thursday, also missed the cut after an 82 on Friday.


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