Inkster stings field at Samsung

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The Independent Online

If Juli Inkster keeps playing this way, she'll be more worried about being stung than being caught.

If Juli Inkster keeps playing this way, she'll be more worried about being stung than being caught.

Undeterred by yellow jackets and a late charge by Pat Hurst, Inkster shot a 5-under 67 on Friday to take a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the Samsung World Championship in Vallejo, California.

She went to 8 under for the tournament, with Hurst three strokes back and Lorie Kane five behind at Hiddenbrooke Golf Club. The $725,000 invitation-only event features just 20 players and no cut, but Inkster already leads 12 of the players by 10-15 strokes.

"By no means do I feel at ease, but I played a very solid game of golf," Inkster said. "It'd be great to win here at home, but I'm not putting any pressure on myself."

Inkster, the 1997 and 1998 winner, nudged ahead of a bunched field with a steady round that included three birdies over four holes midway through the back nine. She is looking for her first tour victory since the LPGA Championship in June.

With her two young daughters playing hooky from a half-day of school to watch from the gallery, the Bay Area native played another strong round in front of 25 friends and family members.

Inkster said her only real mistake was poor club selection that led to a bogey on the 17th. She made up for it with a birdie on 18 and headed into the weekend with a solid lead.

"It's going well, and I'm getting to know the course better," Inkster said. "I feel comfortable out there."

Hurst, who's also from the Bay Area, shot a 70 after beginning the day in a four-way tie for the lead. She began slowly on Friday and angrily flung an iron after an errant fairway shot on the seventh hole.

But she made three birdies in her final four holes despite being stung on the neck by a wasp on the 11th fairway. Inkster and Hurst both played practice rounds at Hiddenbrooke before traveling to Scotland for last week's Solheim Cup.

"I didn't even see the guy," Hurst said of the offending insect. "I'll take a bee sting (if) I can finish with three birdies in the last four holes."

The yellow jackets made life miserable for everyone. Kane was stung on her right elbow, while Inkster's caddie, Greg Johnston, was stung for the second straight day.

"I told him to stay away from me," Inkster said. "He's just getting pelted out there."

Kane overcame a three-putt double-bogey on the 11th with two birdies on her final three holes. After winning in New Albany, Ohio, two weeks ago, the Canadian who was once best-known for nine consecutive second-place finishes is in search of her third victory since Aug. 1.

"This golf course does not allow you to be really aggressive," Kane said. "Juli must be hitting some great shots to be making birdies like she is."

Seven strokes behind Inkster were Mi Hyun Kim and Annika Sorenstam, a first-round leader who struggled in a 74 on Friday. Sorenstam bogeyed four of six holes midway through the day.

"I don't know what happened, because I've been playing really strong," said Sorenstam, who was paired with Hurst. "It's golf, and you've got to deal with it, but sometimes it's no fun."

At even par 144, defending champ Se Ri Pak is eight strokes behind Inkster, as is first-round leader Meg Mallon. Player of the Year Karrie Webb got just one birdie on the back nine and faded to 1-over 145 for the tournament.