NORTH BERWICK’S Catriona Matthew moved into contention at the halfway stage of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the opening major of 2014, in California.
The world No 13, who was second in this event in 2007, is just three shots off the lead on four-under after posting a second-round 68 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
Matthew, who’d been four-over after six holes in the first round before recovering to open with a level-par 72, didn’t put a foot wrong second time around.
She birdied the fourth, 11th, 13th and 17th holes to catapult herself from just outside the top 20 to breathing down the necks of two joint-leaders, American Lexi Thompson and South Korea’s Se-ri Pak.
After an opening 73, 19-year-old Thompson was still one over par for the tournament after five holes of her second round, but then birdied eight of the remaining 13 holes to card a flawless 64.
Pak’s second round was far more sedate, birdies at the second and 18th seeing the five-time major winner add a 70 to her opening 67.
“I was just trying to stay in the moment and focus on each shot, not really think about what I was shooting,” said Thompson.
“I had the same confidence over every shot, just committing to my line and just being confident over every shot or every putt, and I just tried to do that the whole way throughout, even at the beginning of the round.”
Michelle Wie is a shot behind the leaders on six under after adding a 71 to her opening 67 with fellow American Cristie Kerr and overnight leader Shanshan Feng of China a further shot back after rounds of 70 and 73 respectively.
Sweden’s Solheim Cup star Anna Nordqvist and another American in Morgan Pressel are alongside Matthew while England’s Charley Hull is just five shots off the lead after firing a second-round 69.
World No 1 and defending champion Inbee Park is tied for 28th on level-par, one behind New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko and on-form Australian Karrie Webb.
Further down the leaderboard, Paula Creamer us two-over-par after maintaining her remarkable record of making the cut in all 37 majors in which she has competed.