Golf: Former champ Thompson takes lead at LPGA ANA Inspiration

Lexi Thompson plays her tee shot on the third hole during the completion of the second round.
Lexi Thompson plays her tee shot on the third hole during the completion of the second round.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - American Lexi Thompson put the finishing touches on a second-round 67 on Saturday (April 1) to claim the 36-hole lead at the LPGA ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California.

High winds that halted play on Thursday saw organisers still scrambling to get the first women's major of the year back on schedule Saturday.

The disruption did Thompson no harm as she returned to produce back to back birdies at the seventh and eighth - her 16th and 17th holes of the second round - and take the lead on eight-under par 136.

"You know, I played well for the eight holes yesterday and made a couple good putts, so definitely it brought me some confidence going into today, and I started off with a good first two birdies on the first two holes," said Thompson, who was one stroke in front of Norway's Suzann Pettersen - the clubhouse leader when darkness stopped play on Friday after a 69 for seven-under 137.

Pettersen was joined by American Michelle Wie and South Koreans Ryu So-Yeon and Park Sung-Hyun, who all completed their three-under 69s on Saturday morning.

Wie had moved to eight-under with her birdie at the fourth - her 13th hole of the round - but bogeyed her penultimate hole to join the group sharing second.

LPGA Tour rookie Park is trying to improve on her share of sixth place in last year's ANA Inspiration, her first start in the venerable tournament at Mission Hills Country Club.

She admitted that the early return to the course to complete the round was briefly a cause for concern, but she found her putting stroke and said she wasn't worried about playing another 18 holes in the afternoon.

"I prepare the same," said Park, who planned to get some rest then put in a little practice before her third-round tee time.

The plan was similar for all the contenders.

"These days are always long, but it helps that it's good weather, and I'll relax some now and then do my whole routine over again and get ready for that third round," said Thompson, who held the 36-hole lead with Pak Se-Ri at Mission Hills in 2014 and went on to win her first major title.

The halfway cut at two-over par saw a pair of two-time former champions depart, with both Australian Karrie Webb at nine-over and American Brittany Lincicome at three-over failing to make the weekend.

World number one and defending champion Lydia Ko of New Zealand went into the third round four shots off the pace after carding a second straight 70 on Friday.

She remained neck-and-neck with Ariya Jutanugarn, the Thai talent who has Ko's world number one ranking in her sights and who also carded a second-round 70 for 140.