By Mark Lamport-Stokes
RANCHO MIRAGE, California (Reuters) - Twelve months after letting a major victory get away from her at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, American Cristie Kerr took significant steps on Friday to making amends at the same event.
Kerr fired a sparkling five-under-par 67 in difficult U.S. Open-style conditions at Mission Hills to lie just one stroke off the lead after the second round.
"I played really, really well today," Kerr told reporters after ending the round in a three-way tie for second place, a stroke behind South Korea's Kim Song-hee.
"It was great mentally and I hit the ball as solid as I think I've ever hit it. I hit the ball really far today.
"If you're shooting in the sixties, whether it's 61 or 69 in a major championship on a course this difficult with greens this firm and as much rough as there is, you're doing a lot of things well.
"It's playing like a U.S. Open, lots of rough, challenging course, greens hard and fast, and I like that."
"I played great down the stretch last year," the 12-times LPGA Tour winner recalled. "I had kind of one mishap. I hooked it, and probably didn't even need driver there.
"But I played great coming down the stretch and that gave me a lot of confidence. And that's a year ago. I'm definitely more mature, older and ready to go."
Kerr, whose only major victory came at the 2007 U.S. Women's Open, believes her experience of coming down the stretch when the pressure is at its most intense could help her seal victory on Sunday.
"I've won a major championship and obviously looking for another," she said. "I think having that little bit of experience helps more than not when you're dealing with these kinds of tournaments.
"I just gotta take care of my own job. I can hang with the best of them, and that's really all I gotta say about that."
Although she piled up several moments to treasure in Friday's second round at Mission Hills, her eagle at the par-five 11th was the sweetest.
"Eleven was a perfect hole," Kerr said. "I couldn't hit the tee shot any better, the seven-wood any better, and I walked it in (the putt) from like eight, 10 feet out.
"If it would have missed, it would have looked really stupid, but it didn't because I walk them in occasionally," added the American, who is one of the best putters on the circuit.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)