Japan’s Ai Miyazato takes Lotte lead
Japan’s Ai Miyazato shot a 2-under 70 on Friday in difficult wind conditions to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
The seven-time LPGA Tour winner had a 10-under 206 total at Ko Olina.
She said the wind blew from basically the same direction for the third consecutive day.
"But it’s still tough to play out there," Miyazato said. "I said to myself to just stay focused."
Cristie Kerr and Spain’s Azahara Munoz, tied for the second-round lead with Miyazato, were second.
Kerr shot a 71, and Munoz had a 73. Kerr, a 14-time LPGA Tour winner, reached 8 under, but two bogeys on the back nine slowed her charge.
"I think I played pretty solid," Kerr said. "I had some putts on the front that I misread. I thought it played a little tougher today where the pins were and the way the wind was a little different angle and a little stronger."
Yani Tseng, the top-ranked Taiwanese star who has won three of first six events of the year, was 6 under along with U.S. Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Jiyai Shin, Meena Lee and Angela Stanford. Tseng and Ryu shot 69, the best scores of the day, while Shin and Stanford followed at 70, and Lee had a 71.
"I played a really solid round today," Tseng said. "I made a lot of putts. I’m still thinking to win. Four or five shots is really nothing on this golf course. It was really windy. You just go out there and have another fun day and enjoy."
Miyazato went 29 holes without a bogey as the trade winds blew hard across west Oahu before dropping a stroke on the par-3 12th. She rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 13th, had another bogey on the par-3 16th and got back to 10 under with a birdie on the difficult par-4 18th.
"It was a really strong finish. I was really happy," Miyazato said. "The 18th is a really difficult tee shot, and of course the second shot was really tough, too. I had a really nice number today. I just hit a nice and easy 7-iron, and just a short bounce in front of the green. It was perfect, so I’m very happy with that."
Miyazato said a three-shot lead means little if the wind stay up. Keeping it simple will be a big part of her game plan Sunday.
"Just need to focus on my game one for day," Miyazato said. "Keep my swing tempo and try to hit the fairways and greens and make some putts. So that’s the key points."
Munoz had four birdies and five bogeys in her erratic round.
"I think I played much better than the result," Munoz said. "I haven’t been nervous all day and I think actually at the beginning I was a little too calm. Sometimes it’s nice to be a little nervous."
Lee won the 2006 Fields Open at Ko Olina, also the site of LPGA Tour events in 1990-95 and 2006-08.