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Ai Miyazato Now in Front at Titleholders; Players Pay Tribute to Late LPGA Official Brecht
Japan's Ai Miyazato carded an 8-under 64 Friday to take the halfway lead in the LPGA Tour's season-ending CME Group Titleholders. The $1.5 million, 72-hole tournament started Thursday at TwinEagles Club in Naples, Fla.
After a birdie and a bogey on her first two holes, the 27-year-old - already a two-time winner this year - reeled off eight birdies the rest of the way to reach 10-under 134, one stroke ahead of South Korea's Na Yeon Choi, who shot a 68. Choi, the reigning U.S. Open champion, had a bogey and five birdies in the second round.
Miyazato credited her fine effort to good work on the greens; she needed just 25 putts Friday. "I've been dealing with my putting since last month and it just didn't go in," Miyazato said. "But I just say to myself, 'Just be patient and it's going to go in some day.' "
Three strokes off the pace is Brittany Lincicome, who followed up Thursday's 68 with a 69, France's Karine Icher (70), Norway's Suzann Pettersen (71) and South Korean Sun Young Yoo (71). So Yeon Ryu, Yoo and Pettersen began the second round tied for the lead after opening with 66s.
After finishing the 18th hole, Yoo believed she had posted a 70 and only two strokes behind Miyazato. But a rules official noted that her arm wasn't shoulder-high when she took a penalty drop on the 14th hole, so Yoo was given a one-shot penalty.
Tied for seventh at 138 are Germany's Sandra Gal (68), Ryu (72) and Aussie Karrie Webb (69). Yet another stroke back are China's Shanshan Feng (69), two Swedes - Caroline Hedwall (69) and Anna Nordqvist (70), and American Lizette Salas (71).
Last week's winner in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Cristie Kerr, backpedaled in the second round with a 74, seven strokes higher than her opening effort. No. 2-ranked Stacy Lewis, recently crowned the LPGA's Player of the Year and, with a victory this week - and the $500,000 that goes with it, would supplant Inbee Park in the season-earnings race, posted a 72 for a share of 24th at 142.
"Pretty frustrating," said Lewis, a four-time winner this year. "My game just hasn't been sharp the last two days. Just been a little off putting, a little off chipping, a little off the iron game. You can kind of see it in the scores. Just haven't quite got things going."
No. 1-ranked Yani Tseng continued her recent disappointing play, posting rounds of 75 and 73 for a T-49 placement at 4-over 148 with two rounds to go.
Michelle Wie improved a bit over her opening 9-over 81 with a 77, but is still in last place - by three strokes - in the 73-player field at 14-over 158.
Of special note Friday was an interactive memento on the par-3 17th hole at TwinEagles. It was a red golf cart with "OU" painted on one side and the Chicago Cubs logo on the other. The cart was in memory of Doug Brecht, a former University of Oklahoma women's golf coach and a popular LPGA rules official for 22 years who died in October from complications of the West Nile Virus. Brecht was 62.
Many players took to heart an email from LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan and wrote messages on the cart for Brecht's family. At the conclusion of the tournament Sunday, the cart will be brought to LPGA headquarters in Daytona, Fla., where other tour staff members will write their thoughts before giving the vehicle to Brecht's widow, Steph Brecht.
On Friday, Whan sent an email to players that said, in part:
"We would invite you to take a quick seat in 'Doug's cart' and/or say a little prayer to our teammate as you pass. Also there will be a silver and black Sharpie on the steering wheel. We hope you and your caddie can/will sign the cart (anywhere you want - sides, on the seats, tires - whatever)."
The tour was in Asia when Brecht died, so the Titleholders was the first chance in the U.S. for the LPGA to do something for Brecht's family.
For all the scores, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/Leaderboard.aspx.
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