July 1, 2009

Diaz , Kemp Share Lead

Laura Diaz dropped a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole to catch Sarah Kemp and grab a piece of the 36-hole lead

Diaz's round was bogey free with all four of her birdies coming on the front nine.

Diaz's round was bogey free with all four of her birdies coming on the front nine.

SYLVANIA, Ohio (AP) -- With a surprised hop, Laura Diaz tied Sarah Kemp for the second-round lead Friday in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

Diaz looked discouraged with the putt halfway to the final hole but then hopped in celebration when the 12-foot birdie try went in, giving her a 4-under 67 and a share of the lead with Kemp (63) at 11-under 131.

Kemp had never led in her year and a half as a pro, while Diaz is winless since two victories in 2002.

Morgan Pressel (68) was a shot back, and Natalie Gulbis (65), Seon Hwa Lee (63) and Jiyai Shin (67) followed at 9 under.

Michelle Wie, seeking her first professional victory, three-putted the final hole for double bogey and a 69, leaving her three strokes behind along with Suzann Pettersen (69), Lindsey Wright (68), Kyeong Bae (64) and Eunjung Yi (66).

Wie needs to win the Farr to get into the field for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Saucon Valley in Bethlehem, Pa.

Diaz has struggled with her swing the past two years but has found some answers the past two days at Highland Meadows Golf Club. She shared the first-round lead with Pressel and Song-Hee Kim after shooting a 64.

On Friday, Diaz parred the first 12 holes before playing her final six holes in 4 under. Over that span she hit 9-iron approach shots to 3, 15 and 12 feet and then rolled in the birdie putts.

On the final hole, she had played the putt to go right but appeared to have left it too far outside the hole. The instant the ball left her putter face, she dropped her shoulders in disappointment and stepped toward the hole to tap in her second putt. But the ball died at the hole and fell in the right side of the cup, causing her to make a quick jump because she was so surprised.

Kemp started early to post a low number, matching the best round of the day.

Teeing off on No. 10 first, she turned in 2 under and then birdied holes 2 and 3 before stringing together four straight birdies on holes 5-8. None of the birdie putts was more than 12 feet from the cup, with four of them half that distance or less.

She totaled just 20 putts on her round.

Pressel, like the co-leaders, is also looking for a breakthrough win. In 2007, she became the youngest player to ever win a major championship (18 years, 10 months, 9 days) at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She she has not won in her 16 starts since her second and last win, at Kapalua last year.

The 21-year-old pulled within a shot of the lead when she hit a lob wedge to 25 feet on the 17th hole and rolled in the birdie putt.

Wie got to 10 under and a shot back of the leaders heading to the relatively easy par-5 closing hole. She was in prime position after two shots but her third ended up running just off the back of the green. Her chip ended up 10 feet away and she missed that and a 3-foot comebacker for a 7.

Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa followed an opening 67 with a 68 and led the pack at 7-under 135. No. 2 Yani Tseng had her second consecutive 68 and was another shot back.