GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — U.S. Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer shot a 6-under 66 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Norway’s Suzann Pettersen in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
Creamer birdied two of the final three holes to reach 10 under on the Guadalajara Country Club course.
“I’m pleased with the way I’m hitting the ball, and I’m putting very well,” Creamer said. “Consistently, I’m rolling the putts the way that I want to, and that’s all I can ask for is to give myself as many opportunities as I can.”
Creamer finished second last year, two strokes behind Michelle Wie.
“I really like coming here,” Creamer said. “I enjoy the golf course. It sets up very well for my game. It’s not the longest golf course that we play all year, but you have to hit a lot of fairways and you have to be very precise with your irons and that kind of suits my game. But coming in second last year, I definitely wanted to come back and give myself a good chance to win.”
Wie withdrew Thursday because of a back injury after an opening 78.
Ochoa followed her first-round 74 with a 71 on her home course, leaving her 26th at 1 over in her first LPGA Tour event since retiring in April.
“I’m not going to say that I don’t have chances anymore,” Ochoa said. “But I guess right now, it’s out of my hands what the other players do. I’m going to try to get here tomorrow, probably going to play early again and shoot a low round.”
First-round leader Cristie Kerr was tied for 14th at 4 under. After opening with a tournament-record 64, the third-ranked American shot a 76 in the second round. She had two back-nine double bogeys.
Pettersen had a 65, matching Meena Lee for the best round of the day in the 35-player field.
Pettersen played the back nine in 6-under 30, birdieing Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 18.
“I gave myself some really good chances and made some good putts,” Pettersen said. “Finally I’m getting the ball in the hole. So obviously that’s going to help the scorecard.”
She has 10 top-five finishes this, but is winless.
“It’s been a great year for me,” Pettersen said. “I’ve been very consistent, which is what I’m looking for. Obviously, I would like to have some top finishes, but at the same time, being there week in, week out, it shows you that your game is really good. It’s just a matter of time before I can eventually get it all together and wrap it up.”
Stacy Lewis (69) was third at 8 under. The former University of Arkansas star bogeyed the 18th hole to end her bogey-free streak at 78 holes – the longest run on the tour this year.
“Playing with Cristie today, I kind of saw how this golf course can jump up and bite you a little bit,” Lewis said. “So you have to play a little bit conservative, but also when you get opportunities, go make some birdies.”
Lewis will play in a group with Creamer and Pettersen on Saturday.
“I like being the underdog,” Lewis said. “I like not having the spotlight on me because people don’t expect me to win. I like that position and I’ll ride it all the way to the end.”
Lee was 7 under along with Ai Miyazato (69), Azahara Munoz (67), Karine Icher (70), In-Kyung Kim (68) and Katherine Hull (69).