Golf

Plane sailing for Lexi

Former champion leads the pack at year's first Major at Mission Hills

Former champion Lexi Thompson fired six birdies in a five-under 67 to emerge from yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a two-shot lead in the LPGA ANA Inspiration.

The 22-year-old's 13-under total of 203 put her two in front of Norway's Suzann Pettersen going into this morning's final round of the year's first Major championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

Thompson was among some 50 players who had to return yesterday to complete the second round, the knock-on effect of the delays for high winds on Friday.

The disruption did her no harm as she produced back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth - her 16th and 17th holes of the second round en route to a 67 and the 36-hole lead.

Thompson, the 2014 winner, kept the momentum going through a long day.

Birdies at the second and third were followed by a bogey at the fourth, but she put together three birdies in a row at the ninth, 10th and 11th before picking up one more stroke at the 16th.

POSITIVES

"I struggled a little bit off the tee and had a few more rushed shots than I wanted, but overall a lot of positives," Thompson said.

"Never complain about a five-under round and hopefully get a few more putts to roll in tomorrow.

"I'm just going to go out there and play my own game, just focus on one shot at a time and doing my routine like I have been the last three days."

Pettersen, meanwhile, nabbed her sixth birdie of the round at the 18th, capping a 68 for sole possession of second place on 205.

It was a further stroke back to South Korea's Hur Mi Jung, Ryu So Yeon and Park In Bee and Australian Minjee Lee on 206.

Hur rocketed up the leaderboard with a seven-under 65 that included eight birdies.

Rio Olympics gold medallist Park, whose seven Major titles include the 2013 ANA Inspiration, had five birdies in a four-under 68.

Lee also signed for a 68 while Ryu, playing in the last group, carded a 69.

Ariya Jutanugarn, who has Lydia Ko's world No. 1 ranking in her sights, was in a group sharing seventh place on 208.

The Thai's four-under 68 was highlighted by an eagle at the par-five 11th, with five birdies offsetting three early bogeys.

Ariya, who suffered a final-round collapse in the tournament last year, said she plans to take a relaxed approach.

"Tomorrow I think it's going to be a tough day," she said.

"Final round, I just want to go have fun and enjoy every shot I hit."

Ariya was joined on eight-under by France's Karine Icher (68) and Americans Cristie Kerr (70) and Michelle Wie (71). - AFP

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