Creamer Cruising in Alabama

By Associated PressNovember 9, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Mitchell Co. Tournament of ChampionsMOBILE, Ala. -- After making birdies on her final seven holes Thursday, Paula Creamer remained hot on Friday as she posted a bogey-free, 7-under 65 to move five strokes clear of the field after two rounds of the LPGA Tournament of Champions.
Creamer completed 36 holes at 12-under-par 132. She holds the 36-hole lead for the seventh time in her tour career and all three of her wins came when she led after two rounds.
'I am hitting the ball really good and I'm putting good,' said Creamer. 'There is a lot of golf left. But at the same time, I like where I am at. I know people are going to try to go as low as they can the next two days.'
Jin Joo Hong carded a 5-under 67 Friday and is alone in second place at 7-under-par 137. Annika Sorenstam (67) and Pat Hurst (69) share third place at minus-6. Karen Stupples in one stroke further back at 5-under- par 138 after shooting 67 in round two.
Suzann Pettersen, who has won three of her last four starts, incurred a two-stroke penalty on the 13th hole. That cost her a share of third place. Instead of shooting 69, Pettersen posted a 1-under 71 and is alone in sixth at minus-4.
Defending champion and world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa carded a 3-under 69 and is tied for 10th at 1-under-par 143.
Creamer got off to a fast start as she birdied the first to move one ahead of first-round, co-leader Meg Mallon, who struggled to a 10-over 82 Friday.
The 21-year-old Creamer parred the next four on the Magnolia Grove Crossings Course. Her third shot stopped 2 feet from the cup at the par-5 sixth. She kicked that in for birdie and a three-stroke lead.
Creamer birdied the eighth to make the turn at minus-8. Around the turn, she rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt from off the green at the 10th.
She parred four in a row again, before catching fire down the stretch. Creamer stuck her approach within 2 feet at the 15th to set up her fifth birdie of the round.
Creamer made it two in a row as she two-putted for birdie on the par-5 16th. Creamer closed in style as she poured in a birdie effort from 35 feet out at the last to finish five clear of the field.
'I've been playing good, giving myself lots of chances,' Creamer admitted. 'I'm rolling the ball really well with my putter. I'm hitting it pretty close too. The biggest thing on these greens is trying to hit it as close as you can to take the pressure off all of the breaks.
'I've been doing that. When I get into trouble, I've been saving myself, either getting up and down or making good putts.'
Hong flew out of the gate with three straight birdies to jump to minus-5. Her birdie run ended with a bogey on the fourth. Hong recovered that lost stroke with a birdie at the sixth.
The 2006 KOLON-Hana Bank Championship winner birdied the 10th, but gave that stroke back as she bogeyed No. 13. Hong birdied three of four holes from the 14th to move to minus-seven.
'I made a lot of birdies,' Hong said. 'My irons were really good today and my putter was also.'
Sorenstam birdied two of the first three holes. After five consecutive pars, she bogeyed the ninth to make the turn at minus-two. The Swede converted back- to-back birdie putts from the 10th, both from inside five feet. Sorenstam nearly chipped in for eagle at 13, but settled for a tap-in birdie.
She came right back with a birdie on 14. Sorenstam two-putted for birdie on 16 to get to seven-under, but she faltered to a bogey at the next to end six back.
'I hit some good chips today. Thursday I left a few out there and I think this Bermuda grass is so tough, you have to be so precise, so a little practice yesterday helped me out,' stated Sorenstam. 'You need to be quite precise and I had a few good bounces and few good shots and it was a good back nine.'
Birdie Kim, Carin Koch and Wendy Ward share seventh place at 2-under-par 142. Ochoa was joined in 10th by Seon-Hwa Lee, Se Ri Pak and Natalie Gulbis.
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