Rookie Heather Bowie, coming off the best finish of her brief LPGA career, closed with three birdies in a row to match Swedish star Annika Sorenstam for the midway lead of the Jamie Farr Classic.
Bowie equaled the three-time LPGA Player of the Year at five-under par 137 after 36 holes at the one million-dollar event. Bowie fired a five-under par 66 while Sorenstam had a bogey-free 67.
One stroke off the pace were LPGA Championship runner-up Stefania Croce of Italy, 1988 champion Laura Davies of Britain and American Kate Golden.
Seven players were two strokes back, including Australians Jane Crafter and Rachel Hetherington. Two-time defending champion Se Ri Pak of South Korea shot her second 70 and was among nine players at 140.
Bowie, 25, shared sixth at the LPGA Championship two weeks ago in her home state of Delaware.
"That really gave me a lot of confidence, to know I can play out here and compete," Bowie said. "I was playing with a lot of adrenaline all week. It was an emotional week. But, yes, it helped my confidence out here."
Sorenstam tied for 12th at the LPGA Championship, one week after defeating Aussie star Karrie Webb in a playoff to win in France.
Second to Webb on the money list, Sorenstam was asked if she can be intimidating to an inexperienced player like Bowie, with whom she played a practice round earlier in the week.
"Do I look intimidating? I don't know," Sorenstam replied. "It's tough for me to say. I'm just a player out here. Yes, I've won a few tournaments and have experience. ... I don't try to be intimidating, I just mind my own business and go from there."
Sorenstam started on the back nine and made seven pars before knocking a sand wedge within five feet for a birdie at the 17th hole. She made three birdies on the front nine, a six-footer at the 162-yard second hole, a 14-footer at the par-4 fifth and an eight-footer at the eighth.
"I'm very pleased," said Sorenstam. "When I got to the range this morning, I realized how windy it was. The wind was really swirling. You think of how the course is -- more narrow, the rough is up, it's tree-lined. So I knew it was going to be tough. I'm very happy with my round,” – (AFP)
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