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Hurst Getting Closer to Castle

Golf: She shoots second consecutive 67 at Wilshire for three-shot lead in Office Depot event. Sorenstam is 10 shots behind.


The players making moves to get in contention during Friday's second round of the Office Depot Hosted by Amy Alcott were about as sparse as the crowd at Wilshire Country Club.

And the chances of Annika Sorenstam making LPGA Tour history here are equally small.

First-round leader Pat Hurst used a torrid back nine and shot a second consecutive round of five-under-par 67 and remains the leader at 134 with a three-stroke cushion over Liselotte Neumann, who also shot 67 and made the only real move of the day.

After Neumann, the next closest pursuers are Kristi Albers and Michele Redman at three under. Tour rookie Angela Stanford shot the low round of the tournament with a 66 Friday and leads a group of three players at two under.

Neumann is not the Swede many expected to see near the top. That would be Sorenstam, who is trying to win four consecutively scheduled LPGA tournaments and equal the tour mark.

Sorenstam shot 73 in the second round and is even, 10 shots from the lead. That may be within striking distance for Ms. 59, but unlikely on a course that has yielded only 13 rounds in the 60s through two rounds.

Hurst, who shot 30 on the back nine, said she will not change her plan merely because there is only one player within six shots.

"This is a stroke-play event," she said. "I just have to go out and not get too far ahead of myself. That's different than match play because you can lose two shots in one hole. I don't think I can play with that mentality."

Sorenstam's streak is not the only one Hurst is trying to end. If she wins, she will be the first American-born winner on the LPGA Tour this season. In 50 previous seasons, the tour had not gone more than three tournaments without an American-born winner.

Neumann had birdies on three of the first four holes Friday and shot 31 on the front side. She had three birdies on the first six holes and shot 33 in the first round and said her best chances of keeping the winner's circle American-free is by duplicating that front-nine success.

"If I can start like that [today], it will put some pressure on Pat," she said. "Getting off to a good start is the key."

Hurst had a turbulent front nine Friday. It included a stretch of bogey, double bogey, birdie, bogey on hole Nos. 4-7. She made the turn at four under, three shots behind Neumann.

But she regained control, using an array of pinpoint wedge shots and a hot putter to shoot 30 on the back nine.

She made a 25-foot putt for birdie on No. 10, hit a wedge to within seven feet at No. 11 and made the birdie putt at No. 12, then made four consecutive birdies starting at No. 14 to retake the lead.

"I just tried to take the bad with the good," Hurst said. "I told myself to just keep my head in the ballgame and who knows what would happen."

Neumann, a 12-time winner on tour, is looking for her first victory since April 1998. Her 67 Friday was the first time she has broken 70 this season.

Hurst said the main difference in her nines was keeping the ball below the hole on the quick greens at Wilshire that contain many subtle breaks. She also said the lack of a crowd made it seem almost like a practice round.

"I felt really relaxed out there," she said. "The crowd is not really out there, so it can be tough to get any kind of momentum going."

But hitting the ball in close--including at No. 15, where she hit the flagstick and rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt--can help get things going.

"I hit it pretty close today," she said. "I had a lot of short putts that I made. That gives you confidence when you start making some putts."

Which is something Sorenstam could not do. Sorenstam, who needs to finish 47th or better to pass Betsy King as the all-time leading money winner, did not make a birdie.

The cut fell at five over and Jennifer Hubbard made a hole in one on the par-three 18th hole to make it. Defending champion Grace Park made it right on the line, but others were not so fortunate.

Laura Davies, Dale Eggeling, Terry-Jo Myers and Catrin Nilsmark are past winners in Los Angeles-area LPGA Tour stops who did not make it to the final round. Se Ri Pak also missed the cut.


Second-Round Leaders

Through 36 holes of Office Depot LPGA tournament at Wilshire Country Club (Par 72):

Pat Hurst: 67-67--134 -10

Liselotte Neumann: 70-67--137 -7

Michele Redman: 71-70--141 -3

Kristi Albers: 69-72--141 -3

Angela Stanford: 76-66--142 -2

Kathryn Marshall: 75-67--142 -2

Dina Ammaccapane: 69-73--142 -2

Luciana Bemvenuti: 72-71--143 -1



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