M. Miyazato races ahead at Japan Women’s Open

Mika Miyazato raced to the top of the leaderboard at the Japan Women's Open.
Mika Miyazato raced to the top of the leaderboard at the Japan Women's Open. ( Getty Images )

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

IBARAKI, Japan – Mika Miyazato produced a birdie barrage to streak clear of the field Friday at the half-way point of the 43rd Japan Women’s Open Championship.

Miyazato snared seven birdies, including five in a row, en route to a 5-under 67 over the Ohtone County Club’s East Course in what’s considered the third “major” of the year on the Japan LPGA Tour.

Following her opening 68, Miyazato stands at 9-under 135 and has a commanding five-stroke lead over compatriot Chie Arimura.

Ayako Uehara, the joint first-round leader with Miyazato, could only manage a 73 as she dropped into a share of third place at 141 with Korean Na Yeon Choi.

World No. 1 Ai Miyazato, winner of the event in 2006 and third last year, fired a 70 to move into a tie for fifth at 142. She’s joined by countrywoman Miki Saiki and Korean Park Hee-young, whose bogey-free 66 so far is the tournament’s low round.

Yani Tseng of Taiwan, ranked fourth in the world, slumped to a 76 Friday and finds herself in joint 22nd place at 147.

Meanwhile, defending champion Song Bo-bae of Korea suffered the ignominy of missing the cut. She carded a 79 for a two-day total of 10-over 154.

Pace-setting Miyazato set the tone for her day with a birdie at the first and went to 2-under when she picked up a shot at the fifth before stumbling with bogeys at Nos. 9-10.

But she steadied herself with a par at the 11th and then cut loose with birdies on the next five holes. She finished the round with two pars.

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