Ai Miyazato takes LPGA Founders Cup lead
By John Nicholson ,APPHOENIX -- Ai Miyazato took dead aim, made another long graceful swing and smacked a 3-wood approach that settled 20 feet from the pin to set up an eagle.
March 16, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
The diminutive Japanese star was as fluid and efficient as ever, making it difficult to tell she was returning from a whiplash injury sustained in a five-vehicle crash after a tournament in Thailand several weeks ago.
Comfortable in the Arizona heat as the temperatures soared into the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) in her offseason home, Miyazato shot a tournament-record 9-under 63 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead in the LPGA Founders Cup.
“It's just beautiful out there,” Miyazato said. “The weather is just awesome and I was like, 'I'm going to do this today.' And there you go, I shot 9 under. I hit the ball well and my putting was really good and I think I had good course management.”
The nine-time LPGA Tour winner was hurt three weeks ago while riding in a caravan of players on the way to the Bangkok airport. She withdrew the following week in Singapore as a precaution because of stiffness in her neck, shoulder and back.
“Right after Thailand, it was really hard,” Miyazato said. “Singapore was one of my favorite tournaments and I was really disappointed that I couldn't play, but I just tried to get nice and easy after that because my neck and my lower back were sore.
“I think I had a nice time off and now I feel fine. Just totally feels good.”
She played a four-hole stretch on the back nine in 5 under, birdieing the par-3 14th, holing her eagle putt on the par-5 15th to take the lead and adding birdies on the par-4 16th and par-3 17th.
“All the time, I could focus like every single shot,” Miyazato said.
Miyazato has a home in Phoenix at the Legacy Golf Resort and finished in a share of second last year on Desert Ridge's Wildfire layout, a stroke behind top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan.
“I'm just staying home nice and relaxed and it makes me feel good,” Miyazato said. “It feels like a hometown.”
Yani Tseng, of Taiwan, hits a tee shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday, March ...
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