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Rookie Veronica Felibert continues surprising run at NW Arkansas Classic

Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Veronica Felibert was the second alternate to get in this week.

ROGERS, Ark. (AP) - Veronica Felibert showed plenty of staying power, and then some, in the second round of the LPGA's NW Arkansas Championship.

The rookie from Venezuela shot a 5-under 66 on Saturday to stretch her lead to four strokes.

Felibert continued her surprising run at Pinnacle Country Club, where she made the field as the second alternate. After missing the cuts in her previous three tournaments, she opened with a 65 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead. She followed that with a bogey-free round, capping the day with a par-saving putt on No. 18.

Mika Miyazato and Inbee Park were tied for second. Miyazato had a 65, and Park shot 68. Brittany Lang had a 63, the best round of the week, to top the group at 6 under.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the two-time defending champion and a three-time winner this year, followed her opening 73 with a 74 to miss her first cut in more than a year. Tseng shot a 3-over 74 on Saturday, her sixth straight round over par entering next week's U.S. Women's Open.

As surprising as Tseng's struggles were, so too was the continued rise of the relatively unknown Felibert - ranked No. 723 in the world.

The former Southern California standout had the best round of brief LPGA Tour career Friday, needing only 27 putts for her 65. Her previous best was a 71 in the second round of the Mobile Bay Classic in April, though she switched to a new putter last week.

Felibert's clutch putting continued on her 27th birthday Saturday, and she was treated to a rousing rendition of ``Happy Birthday'' from the gallery on the par-3 17th and after completing her round on No. 18. She needed only 29 putts and opened her round with birdies on Nos. 2, 4 and 6, but one of her best putts came on a 10-foot par save on No. 11.

She made the last of her five birdies with a 20-foot putt from off the green at the par-3 15th and finished her round with three pars to enter Sunday in the unfamiliar position of leader.

Lang made the day's biggest charge, shooting a 7-under 29 over her last nine holes and jumping from a tie for 76th to the tie for third with at 6 under.

Lang, who earned her first career victory last week in Ontario, nearly matched the course record with her 63. Angela Park and Jane Park each hold the record score of 62, both in 2008.

Lang was tied with Katie Futcher (67), Ai Miyazato (68), Ryann O'Toole (68) and LPGA Championship winner Shanshan Feng (70) at 6 under.

Local favorite and No. 2 Stacy Lewis, who played collegiately at the nearby University of Arkansas, shot a 69 on Saturday and was 3 under for the tournament.

Michelle Wie, mired in a season-long slump, shot a 74 to miss the cut.

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