GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. - After an opening round that sent many scores soaring with the gusty winds over the Bay Course of Seaview Resort, Cristie Kerr noticed the calmer conditions Saturday and took dead aim on Day Two of the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Staying aggressive from her opening tee shot to her successful birdie putt at 18, Kerr checked in with a 6-under-par 65 to hold a 1-stroke lead after 36 holes of the 54-hole, $1.5 million LPGA event.
Kerr, 33, who at No. 4 is the top American in the world rankings, shook off a double bogey at the short par-4 12th and roared back with her sixth, seventh, and eighth birdies of the day after that. She finished at 8-under 134 after two trips over the 6,150-yard course.
Scotland's Catriona Matthew, who teed off in the morning, shot a 67 for a 7-under 135, a figure that kept her in or tied for first place until Kerr birdied the 18th. Long-driving Brittany Lincicome fashioned a bogey-free 64 - the lowest round of the tournament - to hold down third at 136.
Conditions were much more favorable for scoring Saturday, with a light breeze and overcast conditions that produced a few raindrops at the end of the day. Of the 149 players in the field, 53 broke par compared with just 13 Friday in winds that gusted up to 20 m.p.h.
That meant a green light for Kerr to go at the hole locations, a strategy born on the driving range, where, she said, "I was very intense and [ready] to do my job."
"You were just trying [Friday] to hit the greens and hit a good shot under the conditions," she said. "Today we saw that a lot of people went low [before she teed off] so the course had very little wind. There were spots on the greens that were a bit softer. So I think the conditions let people be more aggressive because you could be."
Kerr birdied each of the first three holes, added another birdie at No. 8, and moved into a tie for the lead with Matthew after draining a 30-footer at the 11th. But on the 320-yard 12th, which features a narrow green, Kerr pulled her short approach into the left rough, pitched over to the other side, and made a double bogey.
However, Kerr said she remained pretty calm after the hole because "I didn't feel like I did too much wrong.
"It sounds odd, but it just didn't feel like I made double," she said. "When you make a stupid mistake or something happens and you make double, you get more mad at yourself. But I guess it's maturity. I just knew that I had to focus on the bigger picture."
Kerr sank a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 14, and converted from 10 and 8 feet for birdies at the 16th and 18th to take sole ownership of the lead going into Sunday's final 18. She is looking for her second ShopRite title, having won this event in 2004 at Greate Bay in Somers Point.
Matthew, 41, overcame two early bogeys and played her last 10 holes in 4-under, wrapping up with a two-footer for birdie at the 18th. She will attempt Sunday to become the first player in her 40s to win an LPGA tournament since Helen Alfredsson captured a tour event in China in 2008 at the age of 43.
Coincidentally, Alfredsson is on site doing color commentary on the Golf Channel telecast.
"Obviously you feel pressure" on Sunday, Matthew said. "I've been on tour a long time. I've learned from these situations before, but I'll be nervous for tomorrow. So I hopefully have learned from being there in the past and cope with it."
Matthew will play with Kerr in the final group, and Kerr said she was feeling good at Seaview.
"I'm very comfortable on this course," she said. "Tomorrow it's just to keep winning that battle within myself and I'll be fine."