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Tseng leads by two at Kia Classic

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CARLSBAD, Calif. – Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot a 4-under 68 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Hall of Fame inductee Se Ri Pak after the second round of the Kia Classic.

Tseng, tied for the first-round lead after a 67, had a 9-under 135 total on La Costa’s Legends Course.

The 23-year-old Taiwanese star won the LPGA Founders Cup on Sunday in Phoenix for her 14th LPGA Tour title and second in four events this year. She led the tour last season with seven victories – including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open – and finished the year with 12 worldwide titles.

Tseng holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the par-4 10th, then chipped in for another birdie from just in front of the green on the par-4 13th. She also birdied the par-4 18th.

“I think that’s the first time I chipped in from a bunker as a professional,” Tseng said. “I was really happy about that.”

She had three consecutive birdies starting at No. 3, but bogeyed Nos. 7 and 8.

“I made some stupid mistakes on the front nine,” Tseng said. “After that I stayed patience and told myself I had nine holes to make some birdies.”

Pak had a 66, birdieing six of her first eight holes. The South Korean star won the 2010 Bell Micro LPGA Classic for the last of her 25 LPGA Tour victories.

“I worked pretty well on my putting,” Pak said. “Overall, I’m making a lot of putts, but at the same time, I had a lot of great shots, too.”

Jiyai Shin, Alison Walshe, Jodi Ewart and Caroline Hedwall were 5 under. Walshe shot 66, Ewart 69, Shin 71, and Hedwall 72.

There were only four rounds in the 60s.

Michelle Wie missed the cut with rounds of 77 and 79.

Walshe hit 16 greens in regulation after hitting only nine in her first-round 73.

“Yesterday, I struggled a bit and left myself with longer length putts,” Walshe said. “But today, I was closer and my putts became easier.”

Shin, who has missed one fairway in two rounds, used that and putting to stay in contention.

“My strength is accuracy,” Shin said. “I feel really good and am doing really well with my putter. I think two rounds is enough time.”

Tseng will play with Pak in the third round, but will not be nervous playing with her idol.

“Especially as an Asian golfer we all looked up to her,” Tseng said. “She was one of the first to have success and we all wanted to be like her. She showed us we can play on the LPGA Tour like her.”