The native of Mackay, Australia, carded a 2-under-par round of 70 today to move into a three-way tie at 137 (-7) with Jamie Stevenson of Mayfield, Utah, and compatriot Dana Lacey of North Beach, W. Australia. Stevenson and Lacey each posted a 5-under-par second-round score of 67 in the 21st annual event at Hickory Point Golf Course.
'I had it going today and I got it to eight under twice,' said Pratt, who played college golf at Campbell University (N.C.). 'I'm rolling it well and making good reads. I'm not sure what's triggered this over the last two days, but I'll take it.'
Pratt birdied her first two holes, saved par from 12 feet on the third hole, and birdied the fifth to signal to the field that she wasn't planning to hand over the tournament. But the fourth-year Futures Tour member slammed into a birdie drought after the eighth hole and was forced to save par three times on the back nine, including the final hole where she drove into a bunker, 'fluffed it out' to 80 yards and got up and down for par with a 4-footer.
'You've still got to make the putts and hit your wedges close,' said Pratt, who used 28 putts in her second round. 'This is the kind of course where someone could come from four or five under and lap the field.'
The 6,456-yard course, with its generous fairways and large greens, still warranted caution as a light wind played with club selection and the greens, firming up in the warm sunshine, sometimes kicked approach shots through the green.
Stevenson toured Hickory Point with a bogey-free, five-birdie round, leaning on her length off the tee. The former Brigham Young University player effectively utilized her wedges to hit 17 greens in regulation to set up birdie chances -- two from tap-in range.
'I had to make a three footer for par on the 13th hole, but that was the biggest stress of the day,' said Stevenson.
Lacey eased her stress by using only 25 putts in her second round -- a hurdle she has attempted to climb over all season, along with the trend of saving her worst round for her final round.
'I've been in the top 5 three times going into the last round,' said Lacey, who hopes to change that trend on Sunday. 'I figure bad things come in threes, so my run is over.'
Lisa Fernandes (69) of Jacksonville, Fla., and rookie Sun Young Yoo (70) of Seoul, Korea, climbed into a tie one shot back at 6-under-par 138, while rookie Hye Jung Choi (69) of Seoul, Korea is two off the lead at 5-under-par 139.
But Fernandes, who lost in a playoff at the 2003 Decatur tournament, still believes she has some unfinished business on the big-hitter's course. She even scrambled for a par save from the grandstand when her approach shot rolled through the green, through the player's walkway between the stands. The former Ohio State University player was awarded a free drop, got up and down for par from 20 yards and 6 feet, and still managed to laugh about it.
'I couldn't hit that opening again if I tried,' she said. 'But it's always good to make a par putt on the last hole. The vibes are there. The bounces are there. It will take some birdies tomorrow, but this course sets up well for me. I'm just happy to get back into contention.'
Seventy players made the 36-hole cut at 147 (+3), tying the season's low cut.
Sunday's final round of the 54-hole event, presented by Ameren and Miles Chevrolet, will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at 11:27 a.m.