Miyazato maintains lead at Evian; Ko rises
Mika Miyazato began and ended Saturday's second round of the Evian Championship, the LPGA's fifth major, with a one-shot lead in Evian-les-Bains, France.
Sixteen-year-old amateur Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot 67 to climb into a tie for second with Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who held her ground with a 69, both a shot back of Miyazato. The newest tournament among the LPGA's majors was shortened Friday to 54 holes because of rain, which could hamper the final round Sunday as well.
Here are 5 Things to Know two-thirds of the way through the Evian Championship:
PHOTOS: Evian Championship 2013, second round Saturday
Check out the action and emotion from Saturday's second round of the rain-shortened 2013 Evian Championship, the LPGA's fifth major.
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1. MIKA MARCHES ON: Mika Miyazato shot a 2-under 69 to maintain her lead and move to 8 under. She capped her round with a birdie at the long, challenging 18th at Evian Masters.
"I was thinking just to (get it) on the green, not thinking to make a birdie," she said. "It's lucky."
Miyazato, of Japan, is pursuing her first major championship. She said she will draw upon the experience she gained in winning the LPGA's Safeway Classic in 2012, though she acknowledges the mentality of winning a major can be different.
"I'll still keep trying more aggressive play," Miyazato said.
She did that Saturday, despite opening her round with back-to-back bogeys. She attributed the rough start to using incorrect yardages on her approach shots, then settled in to scatter four birdies and 12 pars the rest of the way.
"Just two holes," she said.
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2. STUDY OF 54: Commissioner Mike Whan and senior VP of Tour operations, Heather Daly‑Donofrio, discussed Friday's decision to shorten the Evian to three rounds in its first year as a major.
"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," Daly‑Donofrio said. "So it's quite a bit of rain coming. We're not sure what the weather looks like after that. There is more rain coming on Monday.
"In the interest of the players and the competition, we elected to shorten the tournament to 54 holes. We felt like it was important heading into the second round that players knew what they were playing for."
Daly-Donofrio said a Tuesday finish hasn't been ruled out. Whan talked about the challenge of getting water off the course – as well as the possibility of the final round taking more than one day to complete.
"The weatherman said he thought there was a good window to play on Sunday and there was a good window to play on Monday," Whan said. "But when we talked about the time of that window, it didn't seem realistic to say, You're going to play 18 holes both days, but rather you have the potential to get 18 holes in in the course of those two windows seemed a lot more realistic."
And if the forecast is way off?
"A couple people asked me, 'What if the weatherman is wrong and it's a beautiful, sunny day tomorrow?' " Whan related. "I said, I would love to apologize if we play a beautiful, sunny 18, and the winner walks down the 18th green and 160 countries are watching us on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Evian. That would be a dream to me if we were wrong and the weather reports were wrong."
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3. KO CLIMBS: Lydia Ko's 67 put her within striking distance with one round to play. Four birdies in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 17 to 4 carried an otherwise all-par round.
"It seemed like a better day yesterday, but it's probably because I was off the green a lot and I putted the par putts in," Ko said. ". . . But I definitely gave myself a lot of opportunities. I missed a lot of putts. I made two birdies in a row on 3 and 4, and then on 5 was probably furtherest [sic] away. 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. When I putted my birdie putt on 17, I said, Oh, come on, please. It's time to go in."
Ko didn't make much of the pressure of contending in a major.
"I mean, I played some really good golf and I was really happy about that. I came off a really good week in Canada," she said. "Like I said, that was a couple weeks ago. I've never been really in kind of contention with the leaders at a major before.
"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."
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4. A RELAXED PETTERSEN? Her intensity is often easy to see, but Suzann Pettersen talked in terms of taking things easy in certain ways this week – from the changes in the course layout to the truncated schedule.
"I mean, I literally decided from the second I put my feet on this course early in the week not to kind of have too much bad energy going around," she said. "When you see changes, if you don't like it personally, you can easily get on the wrong side.
"I've been very laid back. I understand we're in a difficult position. It's not ideal for either the championship or for the players or the tour in general to cut down on major rounds. So we do the best we can."
Asked about her experience as a veteran helping her at a major, one couldn't be blamed if the response was surprising.
"Experience? Well, since I'm blonde, I don't really evaluate my experience too well. That's just a part of being blonde. But I'm learning every year," Pettersen quipped. "I think I'm just smarter. I train smarter; I prepare smarter; I still get my freaky moments, but it's less of 'em."
As for her 2-under round Saturday, Pettersen made the turn with a birdie and eight pars under her belt, then scattered three birdies and two bogeys coming in.
"Today I didn't play my perfect game of golf out there, but I made a few really good pars," she said, "I missed a few greens, holed a few good par putts; had a few easy birdies; few easy tap‑ins.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Stacy Lewis of the U.S. shot 67 Friday to rise to fourth at 6 under, with three birdies on the front and two birdies against a bogey on the back. "I mean, I've just played solid. I haven't done anything crazy good yet, which is kind of nice. I haven't played my best round yet, which is good." . . . Chella Choi, Se Ri Pak and So Yeon Ryu are T-5 at 5 under. . . . Christina Kim slipped to T-14 at 2 under with a 73. . . . Notables who missed the cut include Solheim Cup star Charley Hull, 17, of England; U.S. veteran player Cristie Kerr; former World No. 1 Yani Tseng; and Cheyenne Woods, niece of men's World No. 1 Tiger Woods. . . . Jeong Jang and Jee Young Lee withdrew after shooting 74 and 78, respectively, in the first round.