MOBILE, Ala. – Hall of Famer Juli Inkster birdied two of her last three holes for a 3-under 69 and a share of the second-round lead Friday with Moira Dunn in the LPGA Tournament of Champions.

The 46-year-old Inkster, playing in just her fourth tournament since her children started school in August, made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th and closed with a par to match Dunn (67) at 8-under 136 on Magnolia Grove’s Crossings Course.

After being allowed to lift, clean and place in the fairways on Thursday because of wet conditions, the players played the ball down Friday.

“It was a big slider,” Inkster said of her 25-footer. “It was a putt you’re trying to get close and it was a bonus for me. I don’t think they want any more 8-under rounds. We played it down today, the wind was up a little bit. They tucked the pins a little bit more, so I foresee the same thing for the next couple of days.”

Dunn, who has missed the cut in 14 of 23 events this year, rebounded from a double bogey on the 10th hole. Dunn qualified for the tournament, limited to tournament winners from 2003-06, with her lone career win in the 2004 Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.

“I kind of went back to basics, which is nice to have real simple thoughts in your head in a golf game,” Dunn said. “I kind of just maybe got away from some of those basics and got a little out of whack with my swing. I wasn’t real confident. Playing good for two days, hitting some really good golf shots, has helped my confidence.”

Cristie Kerr had the best round of the day, a 6-under 66 that left her at 7 under. First-round leader Paula Creamer followed her opening 64 with a 74 to drop two strokes back at 6 under.

Lorena Ochoa rebounded from a quadruple-bogey 8 on the first hole to salvage a 73 that left her at 5 under with Stacy Prammanasudh (71) and Karen Stupples (70).

“I am just glad that I managed to finish around par,” said Ochoa, who can wrap up player of the year honors with a win this week.

Ochoa, the Mexican star who leads the money list and is tied for tour victory lead with five, is seeking her third straight victory and sixth of the year. She won the Corona Morelia Championship in Mexico and followed with a comeback victory over Annika Sorenstam in the Samsung World Championship.

“It was a tough start with that quad,” Ochoa said. “I can’t remember making one of those before. It was a new experience, but at the same time it was good that it happened on the first hole, so I had 17 holes to try to catch up the rest of the round.”

Ochoa had to take two unplayable lies on the opening hole and make the long walk back down the fairway.

“The important thing is that I am only three shots away from the lead and it helps to have two more days,” she said. “I will be fine. I will be ready to go tomorrow.”

AP-ES-11-10-06 1759EST

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