Minjee Lee tops Kraft Nabisco amateurs
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Minjee Lee topped the 10 amateurs in the field Friday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, shooting a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for 19th at 1 under.
The 17-year-old Australian is the top-ranked amateur in the world and ranked 110th overall. She will be part of Australia’s four-player team in the International Crown professional event in July at Caves Valley in Maryland.
Five other amateurs made the cut in the first major championship of the year.
Sixteen-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson followed her opening 77 with a 68 to tie for 36th at 1 over. Lilia Vu, a 16-year-old from Fountain Valley in Orange County, was another stroke back at 2 over after her second straight 73. She won the KNC Champions Juniors Challenge in a playoff Monday to earn a spot in the field.
Angel Yin, a 15-year-old high school freshman from the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, made the cut for the second straight year. She opened with a 68 and had a 79 in the second round to drop into a tie for 54th at 3 over.
Seventeen-year-old Su-Hyun Oh of Australia was tied for 64th at 4 over after her second straight 74, and UCLA’s Alison Lee had a 74 to make the cut on the number at 5 over.
Alabama’s Emma Talley, the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, missed the cut with rounds of 78 and 73. Southern California’s Annie Park, the NCAA champion, shot 76-78 and Clemson’s Ashlan Ramsey shot 77-78. Nelly Korda, Bahamas winner Jessica Korda’s 15-year-old sister, also struggled with rounds of 81 and 76.
MAJOR TURNAROUND: Gerina Piller rebounded from an opening 77 with a 65 to jump from a tie for 82nd to a tie for 11th at 2 under.
“Just really trusting yourself and not trying to play perfect golf,” Piller said. “That’s what I did yesterday and you can see that did not work out as well.”
She had seven birdies and only 24 putts in her bogey-free round Friday. On Thursday, she had seven bogeys, two birdies and 37 putts.
She was five strokes behind leaders Lexi Thompson and Se Ri Pak.
“It’s anyone’s game,” Piller said. “Anything can happen. It’s a great course. It’s in awesome shape and you get the birdies rolling and you can go low out here. I’m just happy to be here playing for the weekend. It wasn’t looking like that yesterday.”
ANNIKA ON THE AIR: Annika Sorenstam spent an hour Friday morning in Golf Channel’s broadcast booth with Judy Rankin and Tom Abbott.
The three-time Kraft Nabisco champion noticed a big difference in Michelle Wie’s demeanor while in contention this week. Wie followed her opening 67 with a 71 to finish a stroke out of the lead.
“You can see when she walks, she walks with confidence, and when she is swinging, she is aggressive,” Sorenstam said. “It is a different Michelle then we’ve seen here in a while.”
The Hall of Famer also was played to see Se Ri Pak on the leaderboard.
“I’m glad to see Se Ri playing so well,” Sorenstam said. “I remember our rivalry. It was a lot of fun. She pushed me to higher grades. She can play. If someone can handle the pressure in a major championship, it is Se Ri Pak.”
DIVOTS: Amy Alcott shot 81-81 to miss the cut in her 36th start in the tournament. The 58-year-old Hall of Famer won the event in 1983, 1988 and 1991. In 1988, she became the first player to take the now-traditional victory leap into Poppie’s Pond. ... Yani Tseng, the 2010 winner, missed the cut with rounds of 75 and 76. She won the last of her 15 tour titles more than two years ago and has dropped from first to 46th in the world in a little over a year.