KAPALUA, Hawaii(AP) Brittany Lang won eight times as a junior and added many more trophies during her two years at Duke. She’s also finished in the top-10 several times on the LPGA Tour.
But she has never experienced the attention, and pressure, of being in the final group as a pro.
She’ll get her chance Saturday after shooting a 1-under 71 Friday for a share of the lead with Suzann Pettersen heading into the third round of the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic.
“I’ve never had all eyes on me, and I want to learn how to be comfortable in that position,” Lang said.
Lang said she’ll try not to get ahead of herself this weekend.
“I start thinking about winning instead of what got me here,” she said. “I just want to make sure I’m aware of just trying to be present.”
While Kapalua is making its LPGA Tour debut, Lang is a veteran at handling its challenging tradewinds and tricky greens. Last December, she 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 got a feel for the greens.”
Lang stayed aggressive Friday despite the breezes that frustrated many players, birdieing Nos. 11 and 13 to match Pettersen (72) at 4-under 140.
“I would have been happy even with 2 or 3 under,” Pettersen said. “But I’m in a great position. I didn’t lose any ground.”
Pettersen is going to focus only on her game and not worry about Lang or the eight players who are within two strokes of the lead.
“I don’t really care where the other people are,” she said. “I’m going to play this course as best as I can for the next two days and take whatever the course gives us.”
For the first two rounds, the morning groups enjoyed calmer conditions with the tradewinds picking up in the afternoon.
“It may blow more, it may blow less. You never know, so you have to take whatever comes to you,” Pettersen said.
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.
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.
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.
Annika Sorenstam followed her opening 77 with a 70 to make it to the weekend.
Making one of her last competitive appearances in the United States 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.
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.
Pettersen said Sorenstam has served as her role model for years.
“She has just set the standard so high and you have to reach higher and higher. And now Lorena is No. 1 and she’s put it even higher,” Pettersen said. “They are raising the bar for everybody.”
Ochoa, seeking her eighth 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.”