Suzann Pettersen takes lead in Hawaii
KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) — Suzann Pettersen rebounded from her lone bogey with three back-nine birdies Thursday at wind-swept Ko Olina to take the second-round lead in the LPGA Lotte Championship.
The 32-year-old Norwegian, a 10-time LPGA Tour winner ranked sixth in the world, shot a 3-under 69 in her afternoon round to reach 10-under 134. She had consecutive victories late last season in South Korea and Taiwan and won a Ladies European Tour event last month in China.
Defending champion Ai Miyazato was a stroke back after a 68 in the morning session. The Japanese player, a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour, had five birdies in a late six-hole stretch.
“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 windy place and always fun to play this weather conditions.”
Pettersen got to 8 under with a birdie on the par-3 fourth, then dropped two strokes behind Miyazato with a bogey on the par-4 10th. The European Solheim Cup star rallied with birdies on the par-4 11th, par-5 13th and par-3 16th and closed with consecutive pars.
Spain’s Beatriz Recari, the Kia Classic winner last month, was three strokes back along with South Koreans Hyo Joo Kim and Hee Kyung Seo. Recari, paired with Pettersen, shot 70. She had a share of the lead with Miyazato at 9 under after birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, but bogeyed Nos. 13 and 16 to fall back.
Kim, the 17-year-old who played in a group with 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn and 15-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko, had a 71, and Seo shot 72.
Second-ranked Stacy Lewis was alone at 6 under after a 71.
“We were warming up at 6:30, 7 in the morning and the wind is howling,” Lewis said. “I mean, going into the day sitting on the range, you knew it was going to be hard. You just had to fight for every shot. 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.”
The winner of consecutive events this year in Singapore and Phoenix, Lewis played the first two rounds with Miyazato.
“I think the best thing about her is she doesn’t let a bad shot get to her,” Lewis said. “She’ll make a bogey and be OK with that, because she knows she can make some birdies.”
Playing the front nine last, Miyazato began her birdie spree with a 12-foot putt on the par-4 third, made a 25-footer on the par-3 fourth, and followed with a 10-footer on the par-5 fifth. After a par on the par-4 sixth, she holed out from 12 feet on the par-4 seventh and rolled in a 20-footer on the par-3 eighth.
“I just have a good feeling with this golf course,” Miyazato said.
Jutanugarn, the first-round leader after a 64, had a 75 to fall to 5 under.
“I hit a lot of bad shots today,” she said. “I cannot control my irons and I still miss a lot short putts.”
Top-ranked Inbee Park, coming off a victory two weeks in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, was 3 under after a 71.
Ko was 2 under after her second straight 71. She won the Canadian Open in August to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner. The South Korea-born Ko has two other pro victories, the New South Wales Open last year and New Zealand Women’s Open this year, and won the U.S. Women’s Amateur last season.
Third-ranked Yani Tseng, winless in more than year, was 1 under after a 72.
Local favorite Michelle Wie followed her opening 70 with a 76. With the late groups still on the course, she was expected to make the cut by a stroke.
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