September 14, 2013 (ISN) – Japan’s Mika Miyazato leads at 8-under-par after second round of LPGA’s fifth major, the Evian Championship …16-yr-old amateur Lydia Ko in hunt to become youngest major winner…Stacy Lewis looking for second consecutive major title
Mika Miyazato captured her first LPGA Tour victory a little over a year ago and now she is in the hunt to become a major champion. The 23-year-old native of Okinawa, Japan sits atop the leaderboard through two rounds of the inaugural Evian Championship.
Miyazato will be try to capture her first major championship following a 2-under-par 69 in Saturday’s second round at the Evian Resort Golf Club that moved her into sole possession of the lead at 8-under-par, but she has plenty of formidable competitors chasing right behind her.
She leads by one shot over Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and 16-year-old amateur star Lydia Ko while Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis sits two shots back at 6-under-par.
It likely will be a race to the finish as LPGA officials announced on Friday night that they were targeting a 54-hole finish at the Evian Championship instead of 72 holes due to a bleak weather forecast over the next few days. Rain is expected to move into the Evian-Les-Baines area at some point on Saturday night and it’s unclear how much golf will be able to be played on Sunday. But whenever there is golf, it’s bound to be exciting finish with so many solid players atop the leaderboard.
Miyazato followed up a great opening round 66 with a 2-under 69 on Saturday. It was a score that she likely didn’t see coming after opening with back-to-back bogeys on her first two holes of the second round.
“Maybe not today [is what I] was thinking,” Miyazato said. “But after second hole, just try do my best my golf game. I birdied 6 and 7 hole, pretty nice comeback.”
Miyazato isn’t the only player near the top of the leader looking for her first major win, and one of them is trying to make history by doing so. Ko is trying to become the youngest major winner in LPGA Tour history and the third amateur to win a major on the LPGA Tour. The only other two amateurs to win majors on the LPGA Tour were Pat O’Sullivan, who won the Titleholders Championship in 1951, and Catherine LaCoste, who won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1967.
“I’ve never been really in kind of contention with the leaders at a major before,” Ko said. “And because it’s a 54 hole event now, it’s only one round to get the work done. Hopefully it will be a good day tomorrow. But, you know, I can’t hit it as good as I did today every single day.”
Pettersen, meanwhile, is looking for her second career major title, having won her only major title at the 2007 McDonald’s LPGA Championship. But she is no stranger to being in contention on the big stage with three career runner-up finishes at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, one runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Open and a tie for fourth at the RICOH Women’s British Open.
While this is the first time that Pettersen is competing on the newly redesigned Evian Resort Golf Club, she has embraced the changes that have been made to the course and would love to win this event, which has always been a special one to her.
“If you look at what the course looks like and how it fits your eye, it’s the same as it’s always been,” Pettersen said. “The layout is exactly the same. The greens have changed, but the tee shots, you have on every tee box has hardly changed for me. You’re still kind of playing on the side of a hill. You either have the ball above or below your feet. That hasn’t changed much. The par 3s have improved a lot. A lot tougher. But you have some good par 5s out there that you can are in my reach. It’s playing pretty fair. Just really got to see what the weather gives us over the next 24 hours.”
Sitting one back of the duo of Pettersen and Ko is Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis, who is trying to win consecutive majors for the first time in her career. Lewis won the RICOH Women’s British at St. Andrews last month for her second career major title.
“I’ve just played solid,” Lewis said of her week. “I haven’t done anything crazy good yet, which is kind of nice. I haven’t played my best round yet, which is good. Hopefully we play tomorrow.”
Miyazato confusion: Ai Miyazato is well known in Evian-Les-Bains, France, as she’s won the tournament here twice in the last four years. But it’s a lesser known Miyazato who has a chance to capture the first major title at the Evian Resort Golf Club.
Mika Miyazato has heard the comparisons between her and her good friend, Ai Miyazato. The two are from the same area of Japan – Okinawa – and with them competing on the same Tour, there have been plenty of questions as to whether they are related. But while that might seem annoying to some players, Mika Miyazato seems to believe it’s actually a bonus that the two get confused at times.
“I’m thinking lucky because same last name,” Mika Miyazato said. “Looks like everybody say sisters, so everybody may remember me.”
Missed opportunities? Lydia Ko was pleased with her 4-under 67 in Saturday’s second round but she couldn’t help but lament the fact that her round could have been even better.
Ko missed a number of short birdie putts on the front nine and she admitted that it led to some frustration on her part early in the day.
“On 6 I hit to 1.5 meters, the next 2 meters and then like three meters, so I was pretty angry and it was really building up,” Ko said.
But the 16-year-old managed to stay calm despite the misses and closed out her round in solid fashion with back-to-back birdies on her final two holes that brought her within one of the lead. The position is nothing new for Ko, who just captured her second LPGA Tour win after trailing by one entering the final round.
“I was one shot behind the leader, Caroline ewall, at the Canadian Open,” Ko said. “I’m the same I think behind Mika. But there are so many other people that are close. It’s not like me and her playing. I just got to play my own game. I don’t know how the weather and the pin positions are going to be tomorrow. But, yeah, I heard it’s meant to rain, and definitely low scores are going to be the big thing.”
Moving to 54… LPGA Senior Vice President of Tour Operations Heather Daly-Donofrio and Commissioner Mike Whan addressed questions from the media on Saturday morning regarding the decision to target playing 54 holes rather than 72 holes at the inaugural Evian Championship due to a bleak weather forecast over the next few days.
“The golf course has really reached its saturation point,’ Daly-Donofrio said. “It became very clear from the weather models that we were going to have a challenge to finish 72 holes before early next week.”
“Given the amount of rain that’s predicted, our weather consultant has told us we’re expecting at least five times as much rain as we received Thursday morning which put the golf course under water and became unplayable,” she added.
There was a lot of discussion on what would be the best move considering the amount of rain that had been predicted to fall Saturday night into Sunday. With rain in the forecast for Monday, Tuesday and possibly days beyond that, the LPGA officials decided that the best choice was not to change the cut number but rather to give themselves the best opportunity to get 54 holes completed this week.
“It’s a tough week,” Whan said. “It’s tough for everybody involved. It’s been a tough week for the players and Evian, and certainly for Heather and the rules officials. It’s funny, last year I said to Heather, I always feel bad for the weather guy. This year, I do not feel bad for the weather guy. Everybody talks to him and nobody leaves him alone. He’s right in the middle of the room and no longer in the corner.”
Sticking around for Sunday: A total of 77 players made the cut, which fell at 4-over-par 146