PHOENIX — Cydney Clanton took the lead into the weekend at the Founders Cup. She knows what she has to do to have a chance for her first LPGA Tour victory.
“You just have to go in attack mode, because everybody else is going to go in attack mode,” Clanton said.
She was aggressive on the back nine Friday at Desert Ridge, taking dead aim at the back left pin on the par-4 13th and holing out for eagle from 72 yards. The ball flew into the cup on the first bounce.
“It’s pretty special to hole out,” Clanton said. “Any time you don’t have to putt it’s nice.”
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. Winless on the LPGA Tour, the 28-year-old former Auburn player’s lone bogey came on the par-4 third after a penalty stoke because her ball moved.
“It was unfortunate,” Clanton said. “In my head I didn’t actually make a bogey today.”
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer and warmer day after wind and cold made scoring more difficult Thursday. Alex had a 66 to match the best score of the day.
“If the conditions are favorable tomorrow, scores will be low, so just attack and take advantage of everything you can,” Alex said. “If that’s not the case, just adjust the game plan and play what’s in front of me.”
Jutanugarn and Uribe shot 68, and Icher had a 69. Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.
Korda had a 68. She won three weeks ago in Thailand in her return from surgery to correct a severe overbite, and is fighting a head cold. She’s still too sore to eat many foods. “I’ve been crushing mac and cheese like it’s my job,” Korda said.
Martin shot 66.
“My game is in a special place,” Martin said. “Just nice to see it come together.”
Wie had a 68, finishing with an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth.
“I made a couple stupid errors out there today, but made up for it with some good putts,” Wie said.
She won two weeks ago in Singapore for her first victory since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.
“Having a lot of fun playing,” Wie said. “Just trying to build confidence every round, every shot. Just trying to keep it consistent and just try to do the best I can every round out there.”
Playing partner Brittany Lincicome shot a 66 to match Wie at 6 under. Lincicome won the season-opening event in the Bahamas.
“I drove it well, which is obviously key on this golf course,” Lincicome said. “You can attack, but you have to be in the fairway.”
Tour rookie Caroline Inglis was 5 under after a 68 in the event honoring the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour in 1950. She received the Marilyn Smith Scholarship as a freshman at Oregon and got to meet Smith, the 88-year-old founder.
“I just gave her a big hug and said, `Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for not only me but women’s golf,” Inglis said. “She’s been such a pioneer for the women’s game. That was pretty special to meet her. She’s just a sweetheart.”
Defending champion Anna Nordqvist was 2 under after a 73.
DIVOTS: Paula Creamer shot 75-73 to miss the cut in her first event since surgery on her left wrist in October. She confirmed Wednesday that she has split with husband Derek Heat after three years. Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie walked outside the ropes watching Creamer. He’s in the area working with Kevin Craggs — also Creamer’s instructor — at Troon North. … Lydia Ko, 2016 winner Sei Young Kim and Brooke Henderson also failed to advance to the weekend.