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Neumann Has a Good Friday

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Liselotte Neumann widened her lead by two strokes after recording a 2-under-par 70 during the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She holds the lead over Annika Sorenstam (71), Beth Daniel (70) and Rosie Jones (69) ' all tied for second at 3-under-par.
 
It was beautiful today. Very perfect conditions today, I think, Neumann said.
 
The conditions are perfect, Sorenstam said echoing her sentiments. Theres hardly any wind. The course is in good shape.
 
Neumanns success at this years first major may be a result of her displeasure with her game at the end of last season. When 2001 wrapped-up, Neumann was none too pleased to be ranked 136th in driving accuracy and 124th in driving distance, and decided to do something about it.
 
I looked at my stats from last year and realized, I think I was about 150th in driving distance on tour and about 150th in accuracy, too, reflected Neumann. So thats just a terrible combination. So I decided to spend some time in the gym and work out and just trying to get stronger and more balanced; and that way, be able to hit the ball longer and straighter.
 
Neumann has been instilled with the same workout ethic that Sorenstam has exhibited. Her regular workout schedule was enhanced during the off-season when Neumann hired a personal trainer to take her to the next level.
 
This off-season I spent a lot of time in the gym ' we had plenty of time off, so I got myself a trainer and really dedicated myself to getting in better shape,' she said.
 
The results are clear. A workout that includes a lot of rubber bands and the medicine ball has strengthened her core and has increased her distance by at least a club length. So far, I think its been paying off and I feel like Im hitting the ball longer off the tee and just give myself some easier shots into the greens.
 
Weather and course conditions were described as perfect Friday but tough pin placements resulted in a course that was giving up few birdies. As a result, scores were not particularly low.
 
I think what was tougher today was I think some of the pins were really tucked in the corners, Neumann said. Just on 18, for example, its just like three, four steps from the edge, and same on 16, 15.
 
I think thats probably why you dont see the scores being quite as low today. Because you think, because of the conditions, the scores are going to be much better today, but I think with some of the pin placements, it makes it more difficult.
 
Sorenstam was pleased with her results, but admitted that she left a few out on the course ' in part, because she has difficulty reading the greens.
 
I read them with glasses. I read them without glasses. Its just theres a special shine to the greens, and I find that very difficult to read, the defending champion admitted. Somebody told me that everything breaks to Indio, but I really dont know where Indio is anymore. Ive given up.
 
Sorenstam was not the only player to have trouble reading the greens. Daniel admitted that she also had problems reading the greens and ended up having her caddie do it for her. I had my caddie read them, too, Sorenstam said.
 
Daniel has recorded 5 top-10 finishes during her 27 appearances at the Nabisco, but has never won here.
 
Rosie Jones second round of 3-under left her in a tie for second and in good position for the weekend. I feel great right now, Jones said. What a beautiful day to play golf. Jones closed out her second round with back-to-back birdies on the par-3 17th and the par-5 18th.
 
Braved the last two holes to kind of get myself back in the game, Jones said with a smile.
 
Jones' tee shot landed nine feet from the hole - in the fringe - off the front of the green on the 17th. From there she made a magnificent putt to move to 2-under. She then sunk a 15-foot putt on the 18th to end the day on an upbeat note. Her birdie at the last was indeed redemption for the double bogey she recorded there Thursday.
 
Ive got a lot of experience going into big tournaments on weekends. Im really just going to go out there and play tomorrow just like I did today and just like I tried to do yesterday. Hopefully, Ill play just as well, Jones said. And even better.
 
With two rounds left to go, players will be buckling down over the weekend. As usual, Sorenstam is threatening the leaders position. Im planning on going low tomorrow, she said.
 
But the first major is not in the bag quite yet. There are two more days to go and the defending champ is predicting the possibility of low scores over the weekend: I think that would be very possible. But on the other hand, it is a tough course. It is a major.
 
At the conclusion of round two, 71 professionals and 4 amatuers had made the cut. The cut, at 9-over 153, was the highest cut in history since 1995.
 
Four amateurs made the 36-hole cut. Aree Wongluekiet is tied with a slew of others art 145 while sister Naree is at 140. Meredith Duncan is a t 153 after a second round of 75. Lorena Ochoas tow day total of even par after a second round of 69.
 
Failing to make the cut was Nicole Perrot who recorded a two-day total of 156.
 
Nancy Lopez also failed to make the cut. She finished at 160.
 

Full-field scores from the Kraft Nabisco Championship