[ GOLF ]

Michelle Wie read the 18th green with caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan yesterday. Wie is at 3-under 139 and made the cut.

Wie makes the cut,
leads Sorenstam

The 14-year-old trails leader
Kim Williams by eight strokes

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. » Kim Williams has been around long enough to know that a sparkling second round in a golf tournament guarantees little.

"I am just happy I made the cut," she said.

But Williams sparkled more than anyone has in the two-year history of the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill Golf Club, shooting an event record 8-under-par 63 yesterday and taking a four-shot lead into the weekend.

Teenage sensation Michelle Wie also declared herself in contention after a bogey-free 67 that included four birdies and a still-balky putter.

She was at 3-under 139, one shot ahead of Annika Sorenstam.

"I think I positioned myself very well today," the 14-year-old Punahou student said. "I just have to play two more good rounds and I think I am in the hunt."

Wie, an amateur playing on a sponsor's exemption, needed 29 putts yesterday, one more than she used Thursday.

Williams posted one of the few bogey-free rounds of the first two days, and made six birdies and an eagle on the 6,270-yard layout. It was the best round of her 16-year career. She's still seeking her first victory, but said it's too early to start thinking about celebrating.

"Can you tell me who was leading halfway through the Super Bowl? No. Can you tell me who was leading halfway through the Boston Marathon? No," she said. "You know who won. ... I have led the U.S. Open after the first day a couple of times. All it gets you is making the cut."

Williams has a long way to go before worrying about winning. The tournament's $2.2 million purse is the third-largest on the women's tour, and has attracted as start-studded a crowd as the LPGA can offer.

Among those seemingly poised the make a move is Sorenstam, who showed with one swing why she's the best female player in the world.

Michelle Wie missed an eagle putt on the 15th hole yesterday during the second round of the Michelob Ultra Open.

Buried in thick rough 45 feet from the hole on the par-3 17th hole at Kingsmill, Sorenstam chipped in yesterday, the highlight of an otherwise frustrating day that kept her within striking distance.

Still, she was within eight of the lead with two rounds to go.

"I don't think anything went my way today," the six-time player of the year said after an even-par 71. "One shot. One shot on 17 went in. Other than that, I haven't made a putt (longer) than 3 feet.

"I am frustrated as much as you can be," she said. "It's just one of those days when you want to leave the place and start over, really."

Williams' closest pursuers were fellow non-winners Soo-Yun Kang and Christina Kim, and there were some heavy hitting names not far behind.

Among those five back are Jennifer Rosales, coming off a win last week, who had five consecutive birdies on the front in a 67, and Cristie Kerr, who was 7 under after 13 holes before giving a stroke back and shooting 65.

Both are at 136, as is Suzann Pettersen, who shot 67 in her second event since January surgery to remove bone chips from her right elbow.

"My game is getting better every day," she said.

Kang followed an opening 65 with a 70 and said fatigue was a factor after a late dinner Thursday was followed by a 5 a.m. wake-up yesterday.

Kim, who held the lead after the first round last week outside Atlanta, got one round deeper in sight of the lead. She hopes to handle it better this time. Last week, she followed a 65 with a 74.

"I just put a lot of pressure on myself coming into the second round and I think that tomorrow -- mind you, I am saying this now -- but I'd like to think I am not going to put so much pressure on myself," she said.

Michelob Ultra Open second-round leaders

Purse: $2.2 million; Yardage: 6,270; Par 71; a-amateur

Kim Williams 68-63 -- 131 -11
Christina Kim 68-67 -- 135 -7
Soo-Yun Kang 65-70 -- 135 -7
Cristie Kerr 71-65 -- 136 -6
Jennifer Rosales 69-67 -- 136 -6
Suzann Pettersen 69-67 -- 136 -6
a-Michelle Wie 72-67 -- 139 -3
Annika Sorenstam 69-71 -- 140 -2


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