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Miyazato bursts into lead from 16th position
November 16, 2012

Ai Miyazato -10, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Na Yeon Choi -9, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Sun Young Yoo -7, Rolex Rankings No. 22
Brittany Lincicome -7, Rolex Rankings No. 20
Karine Icher -7, Rolex Rankings No. 37

Rolex Rankings No. 8 Ai Miyazato set a new tournament record on Friday with an 8-under 64, taking the lead heading into the third-round at the CME Group Titleholders at 10-under-par. Miyazato entered the day tied for 16th but strung together 8 birdies after a bogey on the second hole to catapult herself to a one-stroke lead over Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) and a three-stroke lead over a group of four, including Brittany Lincicome (@Brittany1golf), Karine Icher (@KarineIcher), Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen), and Sun Young Yoo.

Miyazato torched the greens on the Eagles Course at TwinEagles Club with just 25 putts, six fewer than her opening round. The Japan native says seeing those numbers today verified what she has been working on for the last few months of the season.

"I've been dealing with my putting since last month and it just didn't go in last couple months, but I just say to myself just be patient and it's going to go in some day," said Miyazato. "But this is the last tournament so I kind of have like no expectations to myself and nice and relaxed out there, so I was really calm all day. That's why I think I made some good putts."

Miyazato has already claimed two victories this season, including the LOTTE LPGA Championship Presented by J Golf and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G.


Miss popular. Brittany Lincicome received the most votes from LPGA fans this month when the Tour held the first-ever fan vote to have players selected to play in the featured group in Thursday’s first-round. Lincicome, who cherishes fan interaction and giving back to Tour supporters, said that being active on Twitter has helped put her in social media royalty.

"That was really cool," said Lincicome. "I mean, obviously it's one of those things where you have Paula Creamer, who has a hundred thousand followers, all these girls that have so many more followers than me, but it just shows you that if you Tweet it enough and your fans really support you."

Lincicome said direct interaction with fans on the social media website has allowed her to become one of the most recognizable and approachable players on Tour.

"I try to respond to every single one of my messages," said Lincicome. "So I just think interacting with them a little bit and got them to vote for me and it was nice to see me come out on top."

 

Putting for show. To say that Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi’s putting statistics have been impressive during the first two rounds of the CME Group Titleholders would be an understatement. The winner of this year’s U.S. Women’s Open only needed 27 putts during yesterday’s first-round and 25 putts in today’s second round.

While Choi has always fared particularly well in putting as she ranks 13th on Tour this year in putts per GIR and 20th in putting average, confidence has given her just the extra boost she needed this week.

"I think actually the last two days my putter was really great, you know," said Choi. "I mean, when I had a par putt, I supposed a little nervous, but last two day I had a really good confidence, and even last hole my par putt was like four meter, but I made it. And I mean, yeah, last two day my putting was great and even I hit a lot of good shots, especially today I think I was very calm on the course. I came here from home so I feel great right now."

Despite already having one victory under her belt this season and eight additional top-10 finishes, the always competitive Choi has her eyes set on a strong finish this week.

"You know, this is last tournament this year, I really want to finish strong this year," said Choi. "I know I had a great season this year, but I want to finish it strong. It doesn't matter win, if I play my best next two days, you know, I really happy where my position."

Fighting through the pain. Following yesterday’s round, Brittany Lincicome found herself nearly withdrawing from the tournament this week after suffering a pinched nerve in her lower back. Deciding to push through the pain for the second-round, Lincicome found some relief after visiting the Tour’s physiologist, who gave her a few medications, a massage and some kinesio tape.

"It just started hurting yesterday," Lincicome said. "Like I was fine all week, no problems at all. Hit on the driving range, I was fine. When I got to the putting green, I couldn't bend over to pick up my golf ball. Like, oh my gosh, that's not good. I've never had an injury on Tour, knock on wood, so I don't really even know how to handle them. And I get on to No. 4 on the course and I'm like I can't -- I can barely swing the golf club, my hips are not letting me rotate. It's just kind of a flip, which my golf swing, my ball already goes right to left, so it was going to keep going further right to left if I didn't correct it.

"So I called our physio, Caroline. She came out and literally laid me on the ground, tried to push on it a little bit, got it to move a little bit, put some tape on it and got through my round, thank goodness with a decent score."

Lincicome didn’t show any signs of ache today, especially after going on a birdie-run after a double-bogey on the third-hole. She inched her way up the scoreboard after carding six birdies and one bogey to finish Friday’s round with a 69 and shares third-place with Karine Icher, Suzann Pettersen and Sun Young Yoo.

"Maybe I should be injured more often," Lincicome said. "I think it was one of those things where I was playing and I was so worried about my back and other things that it completely distracted me from what I was doing on the golf course that it made me play better. So maybe the back injury will stick around for two more days."

Getting glammed up. Tonight’s Rolex Awards Celebration will be a night to remember for many LPGA players. It’s one of the only nights out of the season that gives the players an opportunity to change out of their golf attire and dress in their best. Players finishing their second rounds on Friday were looking forward to the event and said it’s one of the most anticipated nights of the season.

"It's so nice party because everyone dressed up really nice and really like fancy party," said second-round leader Ai Miyazato. "I just love that party. It's fun to go there."

A lot of attention and effort goes into the production of the show, and Miyazato said just as much went into her outfit.

"I prepared for it like last month, I bought a dress for this party, so looking forward to going," said Miyazato.

Brittany Lincicome said the night is not only a chance to dress up and have fun but also a chance to show support for fellow Tour members and friends who are being recognized. She said she’ll be taking a reporter role and will be interviewing players on her flip cam on the red carpet.

"Obviously I have a lot of great, great friends that are going to be there and it's nice to kind of show my support," said Lincicome. "Hopefully if I ever win such a cool award, they would come for me, so it's going to be a fun time. Apparently I'm going to interview some of the players, so that's going to be really exiting with my little flip cam."

A break from the grind. One of several moms on the LPGA Tour, Rolex Rankings No. 37 Karine Icher finds relieve from the grind on the golf course at the sight of her daughter, Lola.

"Yeah, it's cool," said Icher of motherhood. "I'm not focused a lot on golf, more on her, so it gives me a break and I think it's a good thing not to be always golf, golf, golf, play golf every day, watching golf, talking golf. I play golf and then like stories and watch some cartoons, so it gives me time to relax. It's hard because it's a lot of work obviously, but it's nice to have her with us."

Competing in this week’s CME Group Titleholders, Icher stands in pristine position to notch her first career LPGA Tour victory at the season-ending event. A victory this week for Icher would cap off a year that includes five top-10 finishes.

"It would be the cherry on the cake," said Icher. "You know, but still two rounds to play, many good players on the top of the leaderboard, so everything can happen."

Gone But Not Forgotten. Longtime rules official Doug Brecht recently passed away after a hard fought battle with the West Nile Virus. In the first domestic LPGA Tour event since his passing, Brecht’s memory lived on at this week’s CME Group Titleholders.

A crimson golf cart, for his beloved University of Oklahoma Sooners, was placed on the bridge of the par-3 17th hole with a sign on the front titled "LPGA Rules Official – Doug Brecht" and University of Oklahoma and Chicago Cubs logos on the sides. During Friday’s second round, players could be seen sitting in the cart saying a prayer and writing notes for their fallen teammate and friend.

"He was a great guy and he did so many things for the LPGA Tour, so we lost a big, you know, a big person," said Ai Miyazato. "But still I learned so many things from him and I think -- I don't know. I thought I just like how I can give back to him, but then the LPGA set up the buggy for the players. I saw so many comments on the buggy on 17, it just makes me, you know, like really happy but at the same time really sad. I thought that was a great idea, I just want to say thank you."

The cart will remain on the 17th hole Friday and Saturday then taken to Daytona Beach where LPGA staff members will have the opportunity to sign it before it is given to Brecht’s wife, Stephanie.

Penalty. First-Round co-leader Sun Young Yoo suffered a one-stroke penalty on the par-5 14th after breaching rule 20-2a which states, "he must stands erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm’s length and drop it".

"They say my arm wasn't high enough," said Yoo. "It was about like that height. If they -- they seen it on TV, so I take it as my mistake. All I want to say is I didn't try to cheat or anything. I mean, I was busy taking a drop and I didn't really think about my arm's height. So, I mean, so I asked the rules official if my arm can get higher and they said no. So basically I have to use my arm exactly 90-degree every time I take a drop. I mean, it happens. Basically it's my mistake and I was 2 or 3 shots behind, still in good position. So I'll try to forget about what happened and focus on the next two rounds."

Despite the one-stroke penalty this year’s winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship only stands three-strokes behind current leader Ai Miyazato.

Quote of the Day. "Maybe I should be injured more often. I think it was one of those things where I was playing and I was so worried about my back and other things that it completely distracted me from what I was doing on the golf course that it made me play better. So maybe the back injury will stick around for two more days." – Brittany Lincicome.

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