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Originally published April 4, 2014 at 8:52 PM | Page modified April 4, 2014 at 9:01 PM

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Lexi Thompson’s 64 puts her into a tie for the lead with Se Ri Pak

The 19-year-old Thompson, already a three-time winner on the tour, shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 at Mission Hills for a share of the lead with Se Ri Pak.


The Associated Press

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Lexi Thompson’s play around the greens has held her back at times in her young LPGA Tour career, lagging behind her powerful long game.

On Friday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, her putting touch carried her to the top of the leaderboard in the first major championship of the year.

The 19-year-old Thompson, already a three-time winner on the tour, shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 at Mission Hills for a share of the lead with Se Ri Pak.

“I worked extremely hard in the offseason on my short game and just trying to get my game a lot more consistent,” Thompson said.

She had only 25 putts after taking 35 in a first-round 73.

“I just had a little bit of speed issues yesterday,” Thompson said. “I didn’t really commit to my lines and I came up short a lot. I just went out today and picked my line and sped up my tempo a little bit and went up to it and said, ‘I’m going to knock it in.’ ”

Pak birdied the final hole for a 70 to match Thompson at 7-under 137. The 36-year-old South Korean player won the last of her five major titles in 2006 and has 25 LPGA Tour victories.

“Everything has just been really solid,” Pak said. “I kept it fairways, greens, always the goal every hole. I had a lot of opportunities, but putting is not as good as yesterday. Still, just really smooth, solid round. I’m really happy about the way I finished.”

Michelle Wie was a stroke back after a 71.

“I’m really excited,” Wie said. “It’s fun being near the top of the leaderboard. But try not to look forward too much. It’s a long way ‘til Sunday.”

Thompson birdied eight of the last 13 holes after opening with five pars.

“I was just trying to stay in the moment and focus on each shot, not really think about what I was shooting,” Thompson said. “I had the same confidence over every shot, just committing to my line and just being confident.”

First-round leader Shanshan Feng bogeyed the final two holes for a 73 and is in a tie for fourth at 5 under.

Notes

Sergio Garcia surged to the top of the leaderboard by shooting a 7-under-par 65 in the second round of the Houston Open.

The Spaniard’s score of 12-under 132 matches the 36-hole low at the 7,441-yard Golf Club of Houston, and he’s one shot ahead of Matt Kuchar. Phil Mickelson shot a 2-under 70 and is at 6 under.

Michael Putnam (72) of University Place was tied for 18th at 4 under, but brother Andrew missed the cut. Kyle Stanley (74) of Gig Harbor was tied for 55th at 1 under.

• LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan is unhappy about Golf Digest’s provocative cover featuring Paulina Gretzky.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed and frustrated by the editorial direction (and timing) Golf Digest has chosen with the announcement of its most recent magazine cover,” Whan said in a statement before the tour’s first major of the year.

The cover photo shows Gretzky in skintight capris and a bra. Known for provocative pictures on her social media accounts, Gretzky is former hockey star Wayne Gretzky’s daughter and PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson’s fiancee.



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