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Defending champion Miyazato tops LPGA Lotte Championship

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Associated Press
4/18/2013 9:26:10 PM
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KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Defending champion Ai Miyazato had five birdies in a late six-hole stretch Thursday at wind-swept Ko Olina to top the leaderboard in the second round of the LPGA Lotte Championship.

The Japanese star, a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour, shot a 4-under 68 to reach 9-under 135.

"It was definitely windier than yesterday, so it was pretty tough out there," Miyazato said. "I grew up in the wind and I like to play in this wind. This morning when I get to the golf course I'm like, 'Now I'm in Hawaii.' Hawaii is always windy place and always fun to play this weather conditions."

Suzann Pettersen was a stroke back with nine holes left in her afternoon round. The Norwegian was 1 under for the round after opening with a 65 in calmer conditions Wednesday.

Hyo Joo Kim, the 17-year-old South Korean player who played in a group with 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn and 15-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko, was 7 under along with South Korea's Hee Kyung Seo and Spain's Beatriz Recari. Kim shot a 71, and Seo had a 72. Recari was 2 under for the day with nine holes left.

Playing the front nine last, Miyazato began her birdie spree with a 12-foot putt on the par-4 third, made a 25-footer on the par-3 fourth, and followed with a 10-footer on the par-5 fifth. After a par on the par-4 sixth, she made holed out from 12 feet on the par-4 seventh and rolled in a 20-footer on the par-3 eighth.

"I just have a good feeling with this golf course," Miyazato said.

Second-ranked Stacy Lewis was 6 under after a 71. She played the first two rounds with Miyazato.

"We were warming up at 6:30, 7 in the morning and the wind is howling," Lewis said. "I mean, going into the day sitting on the range, you knew it was going to be hard. You just had to fight for every shot. You couldn't really try to make too many birdies. You just had to kind of take some putts if they came and grind out a few pars. Anything under par today, I think, is a good score."

Lewis praised Miyazato.

"I think the best thing about her is she doesn't let a bad shot get to her," Lewis said. "She'll make a bogey and be OK with that, because she knows she can make some birdies."

Jutanugarn, the first-round leader after a 64, had a 75 to fall to 5 under.

"I hit a lot of bad shots today," Jutanugarn said. "I cannot control my irons and I still miss a lot short putts."

Top-ranked Inbee Park, coming off a victory two weeks in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, was 3 under after a 71.

Ko had her second straight 71. She won the Canadian Open in August to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner at 15 years, 4 months, 2 days. The South Korea-born Ko has two other pro victories, the New South Wales Open last year and New Zealand Women's Open this year, and won the U.S. Women's Amateur last season.

Local favourite Michelle Wie followed her opening 70 with a 76 to put her in danger of missing the cut.

Sara Maude Juneau of Fossambault-sur-le-lac, Que., shot a 75, for a 145 score. Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont., had a 74, to finish at 147. Charlottetown's Lorie Kane improved on her opening round 78 by carding a 72, for a two-round score of 150. Maude-Aimee LeBlanc of Sherbrooke, Que., followed her opening round of 71 by ballooning to an 81, and finished at 152.

Ai Miyazato (Photo:  Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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