Kim maintains lead; Wie, contenders gaining

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Christina Kim's second-round 68 at the LPGA State Farm Classic looked ordinary compared to her opening 63, but it included a birdie putt on her last hole that gave her a one-stroke lead over the charging Michelle Wie and three others.

Kim was the first-day leader, but said Friday was, by comparison, a fight.

She bogeyed the par-5 sixth hole and saved par on her opening hole only after finding the green with her second shot from behind a line of trees well off the fairway.

"It was quite a struggle, I thought," said the pigtailed Kim. "I shot a 9 under [Thursday] and it's always hard to follow that."

Right behind her is the 18-year-old Wie, playing easily her best golf of the year while shooting a 65 that pulled her to 12 under for the tournament.

Wie, who has never won an LPGA tournament, is playing only part time this year after enrolling at Stanford. She played aggressively and counted on her short game and the forgiveness of the wide-open Panther Creek Country Club course.

"I've had two solid rounds but I'm still a shot behind. I need to go lower over the weekend," she said. "There's a lot of birdie opportunities out there today that I missed. So tomorrow and Sunday I just need to get the rest."

Wie opened her round with an eagle on the par-4 10th hole, dropping her second shot just past the cup and then watching it roll back in before trading high fives with caddie Tim Vickers and playing partner Allison Hanna-Williams. A similar shot Thursday landed her an eagle, too.

"I hit a really good shot and it was like wow, it went in again," she said. "This makes my life really easy.

The gallery following her, the tournament's largest, oohed and ahhed over her long drives, and her ability to bail herself out of the rough.

On the par-5 13th hole, Wie drove for the green on her second shot, finding instead deep rough 20 feet to the right and down a hill. A soft pitch to within a few feet of the cup helped her save par.

She landed just off the fairway on 14 and 15, too, only to salvage par on both.

Kim finished second last year at the State Farm to Sherri Steinhauer, losing on Steinhauer's birdie putt on her last hole.

She said that on Thursday it seemed like she would "just blink" and the ball would fall in the cup.

Teeing off late on Friday, Kim said she watched the leader board and felt the pressure when Sherri Turner charged out to 12 under and, for a time, the lead.

"You knew that yesterday wasn't a fluke," Kim said.

Turner, Ji Young Oh and Yani Tseng, a second-year pro from Taiwan who won the LPGA Championship this year, finished the day tied with Wie at 12 under.

At 51, Turner is the tournament's oldest player and plans to retire at the end of the season. She hasn't won an LPGA event since 1989, has had only two top-10 finishes in the past six years, and said she considered skipping the State Farm.

"I haven't been in this position in a while and it might be the last time I am in this position," she said. "I knew that I could do it, but thinking you could do it and actually doing it are two completely different things."

Turner shot a bogey-free round Friday that included an eagle on 13 and a stroke of luck on No. 8. Her errant drive landed a few short yards shy of the green after bouncing off the cart-path and tournament volunteer Steve Jacobson, who said the ball brushed his hat.

"I hit a good tee shot, but the wind was going left to right and I hit the cart path," Turner said. "The ball ended up like 45 yards from the green. I was pretty excited about that."

Tseng on Friday matched her opening-round 66, sinking birdie putts on five of her last eight holes before bogeying her last to fall back to 12 under.

"I think I was too aggressive," Tseng said of her last putt. "I just couldn't control the speed and I passed the hole by 4 or 5 feet."

Last year's State Farm Champion, Steinhauer, shot a 71 in the second round but couldn't overcome her first-day 75 and didn't make the cut.

Other players who won't be playing Saturday and Sunday include Nancy Lopez and Michelle McGann.