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Kim at ease among stars

Song-Hee Kim, who is still aiming for her first LPGA victory, turned in a bogey-free round while taking the lead.

Associated Press

Song-Hee Kim, who is still aiming for her first LPGA victory, turned in a bogey-free round while taking the lead.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Song-Hee Kim will start the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship atop a leaderboard loaded with majors winners.

The South Korean is the world's highest-ranked player — No. 14 — without an LPGA Tour victory.

So was she nervous knowing she'll be in the final group today?

"Nope," she responded matter-of-factly after shooting 4-under 68 on Friday at Mission Hills.

Kim, 21, has top-10 finishes in all three events this year as she chases her first victory. Her two-round total of 7-under 137 in the season's first major gave her a one-shot lead over majors winners Cristie Kerr (67), Karen Stupples (69) and top-ranked Lorena Ochoa (70).

Karrie Webb (70), a two-time winner at this event and a seven-time major winner overall, was two strokes back along with Stacy Lewis (68). Yani Tseng (71), the 2008 LPGA Championship winner, and first-round leader Suzann Pettersen (73) were 4 under.

"I've always been ready to win," Kim said.

Kim had a bogey-free round.

Keeping out of the rough and handling the fast greens with tough pin placements were keys for the leaders. The conditions could get even tougher during the weekend if the wind kicks up.

Michelle Wie was tied for 10th at 2 under after her second straight 71.

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, the defending champion, couldn't stay on the fairways and bogeyed three of her first four holes for 74 to drop seven shots back.

PGA: Getting to the Masters is secondary in Bryce Molder's mind. He just wants that elusive first victory on the PGA Tour.

Molder birdied four of the last seven holes for 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead in the final event before the Masters next week. Molder had a 9-under 135 total on Redstone's Tournament Course in Humble, Texas.

The former Georgia Tech star is winless in 88 career PGA Tour starts, and he has never played in the Masters. Sure, he has thought about punching his ticket this week, but that's not as important to him as winning.

"Once you're out there and over the ball, you're not really thinking, 'Well, maybe this is what could or could not get me in next week,' " Molder said. "If you ask me that Sunday afternoon and I've got a two-shot lead walking down the last hole, maybe so."

Molder made short birdie putts on 12 and 13, then chipped in on the par-5 15th. He rolled in a 33-foot putt on 17 to take the outright lead.

Molder had a breakthrough season in 2009, with three top-10 finishes and more than $1 million in earnings for the first time. He has three more top 10s already this year, and his confidence grows a bit each time he plays himself in contention.

First-round co-leader Cameron Percy (69) and fellow PGA Tour rookie Alex Prugh (66) were tied for second, and Lee Westwood (68), Anthony Kim (69), Joe Ogilvie (67) and Kevin Stadler (70) were 7 under after another windy day.

Ernie Els, Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson made the cut but were far off the pace. Els (74) and Couples (73) were even par, and Mickelson (76) was 1 over.

Kim at ease among stars 04/02/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 10:16pm]
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