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April 29, 2017

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Pettersen defies winds to take lead in Hawaii

KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Norway's Suzann Pettersen fired a 3-under-par 69 on Thursday to seize a one-shot lead over defending champion Ai Miyazato after two rounds of the LPGA Tour Lotte Championship.

Pettersen, a 10-time winner on the LPGA tour, had a 36-hole total of 10-under 134, with Japan's Miyazato alone in second after a 68.

The Norwegian veteran, on even par for the round after one birdie and one bogey through 10 holes, birdied three of her remaining holes to take the lead and said patience was crucial in the gusty winds.

"You're just really trying to play the course, what it gives us," Pettersen said. "There are certain holes you can take advantage of, and then others that are more — where par is a good score.

"But I think today even on the holes where I felt like I should have made a birdie and I made a par, I said, 'par is not going to hurt me today.'"

Miyazato, who had seven birdies and three bogeys in her four-under effort, welcomed the blustery weather that swept across Ko Olina.

"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 a windy place and it's always fun to play these weather conditions."

Spain's Beatriz Recari, winner of the Kia Classic last month, was tied for third with South Korean teenager Kim Hyo-Joo and South Korea's Seo Hee-Kyung.

Recari briefly held a share of the lead but fell back with bogeys at 13 and 16 and settled for a 2-under 70 for 137, while Kim posted a 71 and Seo shot an even-par 72.

Kim, 17, played in a group with fellow teens Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand and New Zealand's Lydia Ko.

Overnight leader Ariya could not build on her first-round 64, ballooning to a 75.

"I hit a lot of bad shots today," said the 17-year-old, whose round included three bogeys and a double-bogey. "I cannot control my irons and I still miss a lot of short putts."

Ko, the 15-year-old amateur who won the Canadian Open in August to become the youngest LPGA tour winner, carded her second straight 71 to lie eight off the lead.

Stacy Lewis was alone in sixth after a 71 for 138. The American, who was toppled from the world number one ranking by South Korea's Park In-Bee this week, said the wind made the day something of an endurance test.

"You just had to fight for every shot," Lewis said. "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."

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