Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


Lang Conquers Tradewinds

October 16, 2008

With experience on Kapalua other players don't have, Lang was able to attack the course.

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) -- While Kapalua is making its LPGA Tour debut, Brittany Lang is experienced at handling its challenging tradewinds and tricky greens.

Lang shot a 1-under 71 on Friday for a share of the second-round lead with Suzann Pettersen in the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic.

Last December, the former Duke star played the Bay Course four times while on a trip to Maui with one of her sponsors.

"I got to play in way more wind than this, so this seems easy," she said. "I learned every hole and knew where we were playing from and go t a feel for the greens."

Lang stayed aggressive despite the breezes that frustrated many players, birdieing Nos. 11 and 13 to match Pettersen (72) at 4-under 140.

"I just left too many putts out there," Pettersen said. "I would have been happy even with 2 or 3 under. .. But I'm in a great position. I didn't lose any ground."

The morning groups enjoyed calmer conditions with the tradewinds again picking up in the afternoon. Early rain softened the slick greens at the Bay Course and the overcast conditions provided some relief from the sun.

"I grew up playing in the wind, and it doesn't seem to bother me that much," Lang said.

Annika Sorenstam followed her opening 77 with a 70 to make it to the weekend.

Making one of her last competitive appearances before leaving the tour at the end of the year, Sorenstam needed an eagle to get to 3-over 147 -- the cut was at 4 over.

The 72-time LPGA Tour winner hasn't missed a cut since the 2006 Michelob Ultra.

Canadian Alena Sharp (67) and Laura Diaz (71) were 3 under along with South Koreans Sun Young Yoo (71), Jee Young Lee (70), Ji Young Oh (71) and Il Mi Chung.

"It's tough with the wind," said Sharp, who had the day's best round. "You have to hang in there and hit the ball low and pick good targets off the tee and into the greens."

The 23-year-old Lang has four top-10 finishes this year including a fifth-place tie last week at the Longs Drugs Challenge. She also tied for second at the Sybase Classic, but she has never played in a final group.

"I wasn't in the final group at any of the tournaments with all the cameras and everything on you in the final group," she said. "So I've never had all eyes on me, and I want to learn how to be comfortable in that position."

Lang couldn't take advantage of the three par 5s on the back nine. She did sink a 25-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 11th and hit a gap wedge to 8 feet for another birdie on the par-4 13th to reach 5 under and open a two-stroke advantage.

But she lost a stroke when she chunked her shot out of the fairway bunker on the par-4 16th. Pettersen then birdied 15 to tie Lang for the lead.

Pettersen was steady but couldn't get much going with a bogey and birdie on each side. The Norwegian star is seeking her first LPGA Tour victory this year after winning five times in 2007, including the LPGA Championship.

She caught a break when her drive on No. 14 sailed right and landed inside the cart of Golf Channel announcer Kay Cockerill, which prevented the ball from traveling past the cart path and near some trees.

"Don't complain," her caddie said. "That was a good break."

Pettersen was given a drop from the spot and her second shot safely reached the green.

"That wasn't the best drive. I didn't aim for (the cart)," she said.

The 37-year-old Sorenstam began the day on No. 10 and dropped to 6 over with a three-putt bogey on No. 11. She shook her head and stared at the cup in disbelief.

She got some momentum when she swirled in a 30-foot bending putt for eagle on the par-5 18th to make the turn at 4 over. She shot her arms in the air as the fans roared.

The Swede added a birdie on No. 7 to reach 3 under.

Sorenstam played alongside top-ranked Lorena Ochoa, who put herself into contention with a 69 that left her three strokes off the lead at 1 under. Ochoa, seeking her eight victory of the season, was sailing through her round with five birdies and one bogey until she hit into the rocks on her 13th hole en route to a double bogey.

"One bad hole, but the rest were very solid," said Ochoa, who was cheered on by a few Mexican-flag waving fans. "I'm in the red numbers in good position for the weekend."

Ochoa opened the day by dropping a 25-foot putt for birdie put on the par-5 10th and hit a wedge to 4 feet on No. 14 to get back to even for the tournament. She also tapped in for birdie four holes later after her long eagle attempt lipped out.