RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Lorena Ochoa was in the rough on the left, under the trees on the right and not always sure where the next shot was headed. When a demanding day ended at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, she was right where she wanted to be.
Ochoa bounced back from a double bogey with two birdies that sent her to a 1-under 71 on Friday, leaving her atop the leaderboard with Paula Creamer in the first LPGA Tour major of the year, and on track to replace Annika Sorenstam at No. 1 in the world.
"Being able to finish under par makes me feel good," Ochoa said.
Even after she opened with a 73, Creamer felt a score like Ochoa's record-tying 62 was available at Mission Hills. She did her best with a bogey-free 67 in which she missed four birdie putts inside 12 feet.
Ochoa and Creamer were at 4-under 140, two shots ahead of Se Ri Pak, who shot 70. Pak needs a victory this week to become only the seventh woman to complete the Grand Slam.
Annika Sorenstam will have a tough time stopping them.
After her worst start at a major in seven years (75), Sorenstam earned another dubious distinction Friday after a 76. Her 36-hole score was her worst in a major since she started 76-75 at Oakmont in the 1992 U.S. Women's Open, which she played as an amateur. She was 15 shots out of the lead.
Suzann Pettersen of Norway, a runner-up to Ochoa last week in Phoenix, and first-round leader Shi Hyun Ahn were at 3 under as they played their final four holes.
Pak again looks like the force she was when she burst onto the LPGA scene in 1998 with two majors as a rookie. She will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame later this year, and she would love to be part of the Grand Slam club when she gets there.
Maybe the best indicator of her game is that she's even in contention at this major. Mission Hills has never been kind to the gregarious South Korean, with her best finish a tie for ninth in 2002.
HUMBLE, Texas - Jason Gore got a boost from the Rocket in the Houston Open.
Wearing a black Houston Astros cap that Roger Clemens gave him, Gore shot a 4-under 68 to join a six-player logjam at the top.
Defending champion Stuart Appleby (72), Bubba Watson (67), D.J. Brigman (68) and Texans Bob Estes (71) and Jeff Maggert (71) also were 6 under after two rounds, and Hunter Mahan (71), Tommy Armour III (71) and Tom Byrum (68) were one shot back.
Clemens, still undecided on whether he'll return to baseball, played in a pro-am on Wednesday and also gave Gore a T-shirt that read "Tough All Day" across the front. The inspired Gore marked the letters "TAD" on his ball before teeing off Thursday and shot a 2-under 70, his best round in more than a month.
PALM COAST, Fla. - Brad Bryant had an eagle and four birdies during a six-hole stretch and finished with a 5-under 67 in windy conditions for a share of the first-round lead with Keith Fergus in the Champions Tour's Ginn Championship.
Raymond Floyd, a four-time major champion, flirted with shooting his age of 64 before settling for a 68 to tie Des Smyth, R.W. Eaks and Joe Ozaki.
It was Floyd's best opening round on the Champions Tour this season.
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