LPGA veteran Kerr takes five-shot lead at Kia Classic


Los Angeles (AFP)

Cristie Kerr fired eight birdies in an eight-under par 64 on Friday to take a five-shot lead after two rounds of the US LPGA Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California.

Kerr, 40, had a 36-hole total of 13-under 131 on an Aviara course softened by rain.

"I like winning, I like challenging myself," said Kerr, whose 20 LPGA victories include two in 2017. "The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, (I'm) going to just keep playing.

"I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now," Kerr added. "I've got some good things going on with my swing. I had a great round."

Kerr lifted the trophy in Carlsbad in 2015 with a final-round 65, setting a tournament scoring record of 20-under par.

Her 13-under total broke the previous 36-hole tournament record of 10-under, achieved by five players most recently Jenny Shin in 2016.

American Lizette Salas, Sweden's Caroline Hedwall and South Koreans Park Hee-young and Kim In-kyung shared second on 136.

Salas carded a 67, Kim posted a 69 and Park and Hedwall both signed for 70s.

"I really like this golf course," said Salas, a southern California native. "My family gets to come out. (I had) so much confidence at the beginning of the week and (it) definitely showed the first two days."

Kerr opened with birdies at the par-five 10th and the par-three 11th. She added birdies at 16, 18 and the second, then birdied three in a row at six, seven and eight.

She needed just 26 putts on the large greens at Aviara, which she said suited her strengths.

"I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't," she said of reading the greens. "It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that so, I'm lucky."

The halfway cut fell at even par. Those who failed to make it included Paul Creamer, Park Sung-hyun and Juli Inkster.

For Park it was her first missed cut in 35 starts on the LPGA Tour.

She birdied 17 to get to one-over -- one stroke outside the cut line. But her approach at 18 came up short of the green. Her chip rolled eight feet past and she missed the putt coming back.

She said she would turn her attention to preparing for the first major of the year, next week's ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California.

"I'm going to practice a lot because next week is a major and that's really important," she said. "I'm just going to have to practice more."