Los Angeles (AFP) - Lexi Thompson drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to join Japan's Ai Miyazato atop the leaderboard after two rounds of the ANA Inspiration, the first major on the LPGA calendar.
Thompson posted a four-under par 68 at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California, joining overnight co-leader Miyazato on seven-under 137.
Miyazato, who had shared the first-round lead with Azahara Munoz, carded a two-under 70.
"Last week was bad, but I'm a lot more confident with my new putter," said Thompson, a long-hitting 21-year-old who won at Mission Hills two years ago.
"Eighteen is one of the best holes out here and it was definitely a good feeling to hear the crowd cheer on that one," Thompson said. "I definitely could have shot a few strokes lower, but I got away with some bad shots, too, and was able to save par. I have to keep that positive attitude going to the weekend."
Miyazato, a nine-time LPGA Tour winner who hasn't lifted a trophy in four years, had five birdies and three bogeys in her second-round effort.
A bogey at the eighth, her penultimate hole, had dropped her out of a share of the lead but she responded with a two-putt birdie at the ninth.
"You are going to make bogeys, and you have to bounce back from them, but not necessarily by making a birdie," said Miyazato, who last won at the 2012 NW Arkansas Championship.
"You have to let it go and not really try to get a birdie, but let it happen naturally," she said. "That was good mental control and a nice way to finish."
- Ko one off the pace -
World number one Lydia Ko carded a 68 to join a group sharing third one shot back.
Ko was tied with Norway's Suzann Pettersen (67), South Koreans Park Sung-Hyun (67) and Chun In-Gee (69), South African Lee-Anne Pace (70) and American Lizette Salas (67).
Salas, a Californian, enjoyed playing in front of home fans.
"They're definitely a huge support, whether I'm playing poorly or whether I'm playing awesome," Salas said of her large and vocal gallery of family and friends.
Chun, the reigning US Women's Open champion, is playing for the first time since she sustained a back injury last month.
She was hurt when struck by a suitcase that was accidentally dropped down an escalator at Singapore.
Chun said she starting hitting balls again only six days before the tournament.
"During the time I had injury treatments back in Korea, I was so depressed, and I lost my appetite and motivation," Chun said. "Once I got here, I began to get my motivation back ... I'm thankful for the fact that I'm playing again in a major on a big stage."
South Korean Jang Ha-Na, who won the Coates Championship and the HSBC Women's Champions earlier this year for her first LPGA victories, posted a 70 and was two strokes back in a tie for ninth with US star Michelle Wie, Australian Minjee Lee, England's Charley hull and South Korean Lee Bo-Mee.