One day after Yani Tseng's streak of eight consecutive rounds led was snapped, the top-ranked LPGA player in the world showed signs she was ready to start a new streak.
Tseng had five birdies and a single bogey for her second straight round of 68 on Friday to grab a one stroke advantage through two rounds of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Haeji Kang of South Korea had seven birdies including two over the final three holes to sit at 7-under par.
Lindsey Wright and Sun Young Yoo were third at 6 under, while Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak was three strokes back in fifth midway through the only major she has never won. Pak shot a 69 to move to 5 under, joined by Karin Sjodin and World No. 2 Na Yeon Choi.
First round leader Amy Yang struggled with four bogeys and two birdies for a round of 74 to slip four strokes off the pace.
Alena Sharp of Hamilton carded a 73, but made the cut on the number at 4-over par. Lorie Kane of Charlottetown birdied her final hole to finish with a 1-over 73, leaving her at 3-over for the tournament.
Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who finished a stroke behind the triumphant Tseng at the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship, carded a 74 to lie 10 strokes off the pace.
Michelle Wie had another miserable day on the greens, shooting a second round 77 which included seven bogeys. Wie recorded 32 putts on Friday after making 33 putts in the opening round. She will miss the cut for the second straight LPGA tournament.
The rest of the field should be worried when the Orlando Magic fan has enough energy to hoop it up with her manager and friends. After fighting exhaustion during practice and in the first round Thursday, Tseng woke up fresh to resume her quest to become the youngest golfer to win six majors - three years younger than Tiger Woods, who was 26 when he won his sixth.
"To catch Yani is difficult," five-times LPGA champion Choi told reporters after compiling five birdies in a flawless display.
"When she's playing well, she looks like a very intimidating player. She played so well today and last week and two weeks ago. She's an amazing player right now."
Tseng had been disappointed with her opening 68 but she was much happier with the same score on Friday having negotiated slick greens that had quickened under a baking sun.
"Yesterday I had a couple of shots I just missed, and a couple of shots where I wasn't committed and I just hit it," the 23-year-old said.
"But today, on every shot, I gave my 100 percent focus. The goal was the same, but I feel so much happier today.
"I still have two more days to go, and this golf course suits me really well. I heard tomorrow's going to be very windy in the afternoon, so I just need to be patient."
Tseng finished her second round in style with a one-putt birdie at the par-five ninth.
"It just made my day," she said. "It made me feel that I can relax and do something more fun. I was feeling just so happy."
Pak stayed in contention with her second straight solid round despite playing through much of the warmest weather after starting with the final tee time of the morning group. She had three birdies and a bogey in a five-hole stretch before the turn, finishing with seven straight pars.
The 34-year-old Pak has won five majors, including three LPGA Championships, and has 25 tour victories overall, but the former prodigy and Korean golf pioneer has just one victory on the LPGA Tour since July 2007. She shares many concerns voiced by Wright on Thursday about the importance of adding balance and perspective to the grind of tour life.
"I'm having trouble for five or six years, actually," Pak said. "I still love golf, and I can't quit it because I still really want to play. It took a lot for myself to be happy. It was difficult to find out. ... Slowly, I know I'm getting better and better, and my attitude and everything is getting slowly better. Starting last year around the fall, I don't know how, (but) everything is really calm for me."
Although Pak has four top-10 finishes in the Kraft Nabisco, she has never done better than ninth at Mission Hills. With a remarkable career legacy already secure, Pak still aspires to complete her career grand slam.
"This is one of my goals I've set," said Pak, who won four majors before she turned 25. "Getting into the Hall of Fame, that's the biggest, and next, trying to win a major like this. This is the goal for me for 14, 15 years. This is the one I need, but this is the one that always gives me a hard time."
Files from Reuters and the Associated Press were used in this report