Ai Miyazato, Munoz share lead at LPGA LOTTE Championship
Honolulu, Hawaii (Sports Network) - Ai Miyazato and Azahara Munoz both went well below par Thursday, and are tied for the lead after two rounds of the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
Munoz fired an eight-under 64 while Miyazato carded a 65 in windy conditions at Ko Olina Golf Club. They share first at eight-under-par 136.
In contrast to Wednesday's opening round, Thursday's was full of red numbers. Jimin Kang shot a 66 to rise into a tie for third with Cristie Kerr (68) at minus-six, while Meena Lee's 65 helped her climb into a share of fifth at five-under 139. Suzann Pettersen (69) and Brittany Lang (70) also sit at minus-five.
However, not all players went below par Thursday, and some had big problems.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng stumbled to a few bogeys that limited her to shooting even-par 72, and remained at three-under. She is in a group tied for 12th.
Meanwhile, first-round leader Beth Bader struggled to a five-over 77 and fell into a tie for 41st, at plus-one. She still made the cut.
Michelle Wie, on the other hand, carded a four-over 76 that put her at plus-10. She posted a quadruple bogey at the first and missed the cut for the third consecutive event.
Munoz, the 2010 LPGA Rookie of the Year, opened with a birdie-bogey sequence, but the error at the second was her only setback of the day. She rolled in another birdie at three kept pushing further below par.
The 24-year-old drained another birdie at the fifth before holing her second shot at the par-four sixth. Munoz hit a wedge from about 100 yards out, and sank the shot to reach minus-four.
After seven pars around the turn, she ended her round by making four birdies in her final five holes. Munoz hit her approach within a foot at 14 and 17 to set up birdies, and converted chances at 15 and 18.
The stellar round put the Spaniard in position to challenge for her first LPGA victory heading into the final two rounds. Munoz has accumulated six top-10s during her young career and is a consistent contender, especially lately. She recorded top-15 finishes at her last two events, the Kia Classic and Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Munoz said she has been working hard on her putting in the last two weeks, and thinks the work is paying off. She also attributed her success to a relaxed mental approach.
"I used to get -- well, except for the last three weeks -- so frustrated on the golf course," Munoz said. "Every time I miss a shot I was so pissed. Now I'm trying to let it go. Like on two today, I miss a two-footer. Normally I would have gone crazy, but today I just said, 'You know, it's okay.' Then I made birdie on the next hole."
As Munoz continues the pursuit of her first LPGA victory Friday, she will be paired with a seven-time winner in Miyazato. The eighth-ranked player in the world, Miyazato has yet to title this season but has a string of good results, including four top-10s.
She fell out of contention at the Kraft Nabisco Championship three weeks ago, but found her good form Thursday during a bogey-free round.
Miyazato began her round with a birdie and, after five consecutive pars, drained back-to-back birdie efforts from the seventh. She made the turn at four-under, and reached minus-five with a birdie at 12.
She soared toward the top of the leaderboard thanks to a run of three birdies in a row from the 14th.
"My putting was really good today," Miyazato said. "I had really solid...putts, and I hit the ball well and I didn't miss any fairways today. So my short game was actually really good, too."
Munoz and Miyazato will have a loaded field chasing them Friday. The top four players in the world -- Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, Pettersen and Kerr -- made the cut, while other standouts are within striking distance.
Paula Creamer (67), Inbee Park (70), Jiyai Shin (71) and Angela Stanford (71) are tied for eighth at four-under 140.
NOTES: I.K. Kim, the No. 5 player in the world, withdrew after the second round. Mi Jung Hur withdrew during the second round...Munoz's round of eight- under matched a career low.
04/20 02:18:04 ET