RANCHO MIRAGE (CNS) – Shanshan Feng of China holds a one-shot lead over American Michelle Wie and South Korean Se Ri Pak entering today’s second round of the $2 million Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA’s first major of the year.
Feng shot a six-under-par 66 Thursday at Mission Hills Country Club. With Amy Alcott, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and LPGA Hall of Fame, as her playing partner, Feng had three birdies on the front nine and four on the back nine, along with a bogey on the par-4 15th hole.
“She’s won three times here in the past and after my first drive off the first tee I was asking her, ‘Can you tell me the secrets about winning here?’ Because before this year, I never did well here, so she was telling me all the secrets.”
Feng did not disclose what the secrets were “because that’s a secret.”
Alcott said she and Feng “talked about a lot of things and I gave her some various little tips along the way about making sure she drank a tremendous amount of water because we’re in the desert … and she needs to keep herself hydrated. Sometimes that’s just as important as how you’re playing so that you have good mental clarity.”
Alcott said she also talked with Feng about her equipment and “how far she hits the ball.” Alcott told Feng that she and Gil Hanse are designing the course to be used for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and Feng expressed her excitement about the possibility of playing in the Olympics, Alcott said.
Alcott called the 24-year-old Feng “a very, very talented young player.”
“She doesn’t try to overpower the ball, she hits it very solid,” Alcott said. “I was very impressed with her putting and just her overall game, just how she managed herself on the golf course. I look for her to do great things.”
Feng joined the LPGA Tour in 2008, its first player from China. She is seventh on the Rolex World Golf Rankings and has won three LPGA tournaments, the 2012 LPGA Championship and, last year, the Reignwood LPGA Classic and CME Group Titleholders.
This is the fifth time Feng has played in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, with her best finish a tie for 22nd in 2012.
Wie birdied the second, ninth and 10th holes, had an eagle on the par-5 11th, birdied the 12th and bogeyed the par-three 17th.
“I just felt comfortable out there today,” Wie said. “I think (caddy) Duncan (French) and I did a really good job of course management today. I think he did a really great job. Just was aggressive on the holes I needed to be and conservative on the other holes.”
Pak’s five-under-par 67 matched her low score in the tournament, in which she has played each year since 1999, but without finishing higher than a tie for eighth. The 36-year-old Pak said her failure to win the tournament was the result of her putting “too much pressure on myself and too much thinking, too much hard on myself.”
Tied for fourth at four-under-par 68 are amateur Angel Yin, a 15-year- old freshman at Arcadia High School, and South Korean Amy Yang.
“I was staying calm and making my strokes,” said Yin, who received a sponsor invitation to the tournament after tying for 55th last year. “I wasn’t too fast and just staying in my tempo.
“I think this course suits me really well just because the greens. I really like the greens here, so my putting really is better than any other course I play.”
South Korean Inbee Park, the world’s top-ranked women’s golfer and defending champion, shot a two-over-par 74, eight behind Feng.
“The pin positions were very though for the first day,” Park said. “I just didn’t give myself a lot of opportunities. The opportunities I had, I didn’t make the putts.”
The tournament field will be reduced to the low 70 plus ties following the completion of today’s round.
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