Rosales Leads Annika Wie in Hunt


2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Jennifer Rosales fired a 4-under 67 Friday to take the second-round lead of the U.S. Women's Open. She finished 36 holes at 5-under-par 137 and leads by one over Kim Saiki and Candie Kung.
Annika Sorenstam, a two-time champion and the winner of the McDonald's LPGA Championship three weeks ago, carded a 3-under 68. She is tied for fourth place with Carin Koch (67) and Michelle Ellis (69) at 3-under-par 139.
'I'm happy with the way I'm hitting it,' said Sorenstam, who won this title in both 1995 and '96. 'I think I played really good for two days. I think I'm in a good position.'
Rachel Teske (69) and Moira Dunn (67) are tied for seventh place at minus-2.
Michelle Wie, the 14-year-old amateur who is playing on a special exemption from the USGA, shot a 1-under 70. She shares ninth place with fellow amateur Paula Creamer (69), Pat Hurst (71) and Kelly Robbins (67), who lost in a playoff last year to Hilary Lunke. That group is knotted at 1-under-par 141.
'I think I played great today,' said Wie. 'I had a couple of ups and downs, but I think for tomorrow if I just get rid of the downs then I'll be good. I'm getting really comfortable.'
Rosales started on the second nine Friday at Orchard Golf Club and flew out of the gate. She birdied her first three holes, then parred the next three. Rosales birdied No. 18 to make the turn at 3-under 32.
Rosales dropped a shot to par at the second hole but rebounded with a birdie at the par-5 third, a hole she bogeyed in the opening round. She was steady on Friday, hitting 12 out of 14 fairways and it resulted in five pars in a row from the fourth.
At the par-4 ninth hole, Rosales sank a 12-footer for birdie to separate herself from the pack.
'I didn't think I was going to go this low today,' said Rosales. 'My game plan was to hit fairways. Today I hit a lot and just attacked the hole. It turned out to be a pretty good round today and my putting was unbelievable.'
Rosales has been a different player in 2004. After three-plus years on the LPGA Tour, Rosales finally made it to the winner's circle with a victory at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship in May.
In the process, Rosales fired a final-round 65 to fly by some of the big names on the LPGA Tour including: Sorenstam, Grace Park, Rosie Jones, Se Ri Pak and Lorena Ochoa.
'It gave me confidence that I can win out here with some of the top players,' said Rosales.
Another source of confidence for Rosales can come from her recent history at major championships. She has three top-15 finishes in four starts at the U.S. Women's Open and took the first-round lead of the McDonald's LPGA Championship three weeks ago.
Unfortunately for Rosales, after her opening-round 66, she failed to break 70 the rest of the tournament. She ultimately tied for 13th but can take valuable lessons out of the experience.
'At the McDonald's, nothing happened,' said Rosales, whose best finish in a major championship was a tie for fourth at the 2002 Women's British Open. 'I was patient out there, just couldn't make anything. So hopefully this weekend will be different.'
Saiki made the turn at 1 under par and flew out of the gate on the second nine. She ran home a 12-footer for birdie at the 11th, then reached the green with a 4-iron at the par-5 13th. She drained the 20-foot eagle putt to match Rosales in first.
Problems arose for Saiki. She missed the green at the 16th, then missed an 8-footer to save par. Saiki rolled home a 20-footer for birdie at the 17th to once again join Rosales in first but a poor drive at the last resulted in another bogey and a round of 3-under 68.
Saiki earned her first tour victory last week in Rochester and the momentum is carrying over.
'I am extremely confident right now and I always believed in my game, but having my first victory last week basically the monkey's off my back and in my opinion there's very little pressure on me now,' said Saiki.
Kung, who played in the same threesome as Wie, went birdie-bogey to start but was flawless from there. She tallied three birdies on her second nine to post a 3-under 68.
'I'm feeling good,' said Saiki, a three-time winner on tour last year. 'Everything has been going well the last couple days for me. I'm looking forward to the next two days.'
Brittany Lincicome, the amateur who surged to the first-round lead, struggled in Friday's second round. She shot a 6-over 77 and is part of a group in 22nd place at plus-1.
Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, who was second behind Lincicome, shot a 4-over 75 and is tied for 13th at even-par 142.
Lunke made the cut in her title defense. She shot a 3-over 74 and is part of a logjam in 45th place at 4-over-par 146.
The 36-hole cut fell at 5-over-par 147 and there were some big names that will not be around on the weekend. Angela Stanford, who lost in the playoff to Lunke last year, came in at 7-over 149 while Laura Davies, the 1987 champion, also missed the mark at plus-8.
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