Korda grabs halfway lead at Bahamas LPGA Classic

Paradise Island, Bahamas ( - Jessica Korda fired a 7-under 66 at Atlantis Resort's windy Ocean Club Golf Course on Friday to grab the halfway lead at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.

Korda, who is seeking her second career LPGA Tour win, sits at 11-under-par 135 through 36 holes.

"It was a tough day out there," admitted Korda. "I mean, a little mentally draining because you really had to put everything into every shot."

Paula Creamer, who played alongside Korda in each of the first two rounds, carded a tournament-record, 8-under 65 to move into second place at 10-under 136. The nine-time LPGA Tour winner opened with a double-bogey, but she didn't drop another shot, tallying 10 birdies the rest of the way.

"When I'd hit a good shot, (Korda would) hit a good shot, or vice versa," said Creamer. "If she made a putt, I made a putt. It was fun. That's kind of what you want out there, especially when it's this difficult."

Michelle Wie also shot 65, which allowed her to jump into a tie for third with Monday qualifier Jenny Suh (66) at 9-under. Wie went bogey-free with eight birdies.

"I think I just had a good rest this offseason," Wie said. "When I came back in January and I picked up my golf clubs, I was really excited to play. I was so ready to get back into a rhythm."

First-round co-leader Lydia Ko, who is playing her first LPGA Tour event as a member, shot 70 and dropped into a share of fifth with Na Yeon Choi (68), Christel Boeljon (67) and P.K. Kongkraphan (69) at minus-8. Ko, 16, won twice on the LPGA Tour as an amateur before turning pro in October and being granted tour membership shortly thereafter.

Lizette Salas (67) is alone in ninth at 7-under, while world No. 3 Stacy Lewis (71) shares 10th with three others at minus-6.

Korda, the last player before Ko to successfully petition LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan for early membership, began the day one stroke off the lead and promptly made up ground with birdies at Nos. 2 and 4.

The 20-year-old went birdie-bogey-birdie from the seventh to turn in 33, then matched that number during her bogey-free back nine, notching further birdies at Nos. 12, 13, 16 and 18 to grab the lead.

"It's tough to win out here, but I'm going to try my best," said Korda.

Creamer started the round three shots back and she ran into trouble at the first, where she three-putted for double bogey. She righted herself from there, however, reeling off four straight birdies from the second and another at the eighth to turn in 33.

During her back nine, Creamer kept pace with Korda, adding five more birdies, including two straight from the 17th to hit the clubhouse at 10-under.

"I was above the hole (on No. 1), and I had about four and a half feet coming back, and I horseshoed it back right at me and walked away with a 6. After that, hit a good tee shot on No. 2 and (my caddie) Colin said, 'OK, let's go, make some birdies,' and I did," Creamer explained.

Ko made a statement in her debut as a tour member on Thursday, shooting 68 and snaring a share of the lead. By the time she teed off Friday afternoon, that 1-stroke advantage had transformed into a 5-shot deficit.

But the world No. 4 quickly went to work, notching birdies on each of her first three holes. She couldn't maintain the pace, however, playing the rest of her round at even-par with two birdies and two bogeys.

NOTES: Korda's lone LPGA Tour win came at the 2012 Women's Australian Open ... Ko won the LPGA Tour's Canadian Women's Open as an amateur in 2012 and 2013. She won her first event as a pro at the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in December ... Lewis is the highest-ranked player in the first ... Defending champion Ilhee Lee missed the cut by one at 2-over-par 148 ... This marks the first time in 13 years that the LPGA Tour season kicked off in January ... Last year, this event was staged in May and was competed over three, 12-hole rounds after heavy rains soaked the course.