Japan’s Mika Miyazato, seeking her first LPGA title, fired a four-under 68 on Saturday to seize a two-stroke lead after the second round of the LPGA Safeway Classic.
Miyazato, who began on the back nine, birdied the par-three 11th and third holes, adding birdies at the sixth and the par-five eighth to finish 36 holes on 11-under 133, two clear of South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon, who also shot a 68.
Taiwan’s world No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a 67 for a seven-under total of 137, four shots off the lead. Amy Hung carded a 74 for a two-under total of 142, while Candie Kung’s 75 saw her lying a shot further back after two rounds.
“I had so much frustration on the putting on the front nine, but I made three birdies on the back nine,” Miyazato said.
Ryu and Miyazato, both 22, were playing partners in the first two rounds and they were again for the final round of the 54-hole event at Pumpkin Ridge, where Miyazato was trying to take a solid season to the next level by winning.
“I have so much good experience the last four or five events, but I don’t know how much closer I am to winning a tournament,” Miyazato said. “I tried to focus on my golf game one shot at a time.”
Ryu likes her chances, even as she tries to deny her the long-sought crown.
“I think she’s ready to make a win, but I think the problem is that golf is a mental game, so I think the final round gave a lot of pressure for her, but I think she can make it pretty soon,” Ryu said. “But I want to make another win this week. So I want to make a great competition with her.”
Ryu was coming off a victory last week at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, her first since capturing the US Women’s Open last year.
“It’s really hard to keep focusing on my golf after my winning, but last week’s tournament is finished, so I’m just thinking about this week and that’s why I played well,” she said. “I shot five-under on the front nine, but the back nine I made one bogey and I missed a lot of birdie putts. I have to practice some of my utility shots and practice some putts. I’m ready to sink some putts tomorrow.”
Cristie Kerr of the US and South Korea’s Park In-bee shared third on 136, both expressing confidence in their chances.
“Whoever has won this tournament has gone low on Sunday, so that’s what you have to do,” Kerr said. “You have to go low, get off to a really hot start and try to bring it home.”
Kerr was seeking her first victory since the 2010 State Farm Classic.
“It has been a while since I won and I’m really hungry for it,” she said.
Additional reporting by staff writer