Valdosta Daily Times

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March 29, 2014

Valdosta golfer takes Kia Classic lead

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Dori Carter might have gotten a bit ahead of herself late in the second round of the Kia Classic. She still left everyone else behind Friday.

After birdieing six of the first seven holes on the back nine, the Valdosta native bogeyed the final two holes for an 8-under 64. The round was her lowest in competition and broke the Aviara course record.

Winless on the LPGA Tour, the former University of Mississippi player had 11 birdies and three bogeys. At 10-under 134, she had a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr.

“No matter what happens this weekend, I can’t believe I’m here,” Carter said. “This is my first time. I mean, this is an experience for me. It’s kind of like I can’t lose. ... I have no reason to be uptight or anything because this is my first time. I’m OK with that. I’m OK with feeling like no matter what happens.”

She didn’t fret about the closing bogeys.

“I’m not even going to sweat that the rest of the day,” Carter said. “I’m just so happy right now just to be here in this spot. ... My putting’s always been my issue.

“Today, obviously, putting was fine. So, that’s a big confidence boost for me.”

She tied for 68th in the season-opening event in the Bahamas and tied for 28th in the Women’s Australian Open, then played three Symetra Tour events. Last week, she failed to Monday qualify for the Phoenix event, flew to Florida for the Symetra Tour event, then made another cross-country trip to California.

“That’s my life,” Carter said.”

Carter made a 35-foot putt on the par-3 third hole for her first birdie, holed a couple of 20-footers, hit close on some holes and holed out from the fringe on the par-4 15th.

“Kind of a fluke,” Carter said about her birdie on 15. “The pin was sitting on this little knob on the front left of the green and I hit it in the rough and I had to kind of roll it up to the front. I got my putter, my caddie and I just said, ‘Why don’t you just putt it.’ I was probably like 10 yards short of the green and rolled it all the way in. It bent in the hole. ... That was like, ‘I can’t believe this.”’

Lewis shot 66, and Kerr had a 68.

The third-ranked Lewis had seven birdies and a bogey. She tied for second last week in Phoenix, her fifth runner-up finish since winning the Women’s British Open last year.

“It was just a really solid day,” Lewis said. “Again, hit the ball really good like I did yesterday and, just the greens were so much better this morning. I mean it was a couple of shots difference, I think, playing in the morning versus the afternoon. Just played a little bit smarter, got on the right side of holes and just hit a lot of good shots.”

She noticed Carter’s low round.

“I was surprised actually to see the number she shot,” Lewis said. “It’s very impressive. You know, it’s a hard golf course. You can make a double pretty quick.”

Kerr holed out for eagle on the par-4 first — her 10th hole of the round — and had three birdies and a bogey.

“Couldn’t see it go in, unfortunately, but it was a great 7-iron, perfect club,” Kerr said. “I just said, ‘Get close,’ and it went in.”

She won the Kingsmill Championship last year for her 16th LPGA Tour title.

Former Southern California player Lizette Salas was 7 under after a 68.

“I have my fans out here this week,” Salas said. “I’ve been just so blessed to have the support from my family and my community. I’m just out here having fun.”

Karrie Webb, coming off a victory Sunday in Phoenix in the JTBC Founders Cup, rebounded from an opening 75 with a 68 to move into a tie for 26th at 1 under. The 39-year-old Hall of Famer also won the Women’s Australian Open last month.

Kia endorser Michelle Wie also was 1 under after a 71.

DIVOTS: Beatriz Recari, a playoff winner last year, missed the cut by a stroke with rounds of 71 and 76. ... Yani Tseng was tied for 22nd at 2 under after her second straight 71. She won the 2012 tournament for the last of her 15 tour titles and has dropped from first to 46th in the world in a year. ... Sixteen-year-old Lydia Ko also was 2 under after a 68.

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