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Miyazato takes first-round lead
Feb 15, 2012

Rolex Rankings No. 11 Ai Miyazato fired a 5-under 67 to take the first-round lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012 on Thursday. Miyazato carded five birdies and no bogeys in her round on the Old Course at Siam Country Club en route to shooting the low round of the day when high temperatures and humid conditions certainly affected play.

Miyazato, who won the 2010 Honda LPGA Thailand, leads by one over a group of five players at 4-under-par - Rolex Rankings No. 3 Na Yeon Choi, No. 12 Amy Yang, No. 20 Karrie Webb, No. 30 Anna Nordqvist and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Se Ri Pak.

It was just two years ago when Miyazato opened up the 2010 season with a victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand. Now she's off to a great start once again at the Siam Country Club, Old Course after shooting a 67 on the opening day.

Last year, when defending her title, Miyazato shot an opening-round 75. She was asked by the media after Thursday's round if there was less pressure on her this year since she's not trying to win back-to-back titles.

"No, it's actually due to the offseason" Miyazato said. "I rested well this year. I went back home and spent a couple weeks with my family. I saw my nieces and played with them together. So I had a really nice time when I was back in Japan. So that's why I was ready for the practice and I really focused my practice in the offseason. So I had a really good quality offseason.

"Last year I was kind of busy, every day was busy so I couldn't really focus my practice. I think because of that I didn't get off to a good start. But because this year everything was smooth, that's why I think I got off to a good start this year."

This week marks the start to Paula Creamer's eighth season on the LPGA Tour and she marked the occasion with something memorable - her first career LPGA hole-in-one.

Creamer holed out on the par-12th from 146 yards with a 7-iron, one hopping it straight into the cup. It was certainly one of the highlights of Creamer's round, as she particularly enjoyed the fact that she got to see it go in the hole.

"My first hole in one on the LPGA Tour and my second one ever," Creamer said. "That was pretty exciting. The funny part about it is in the practice round I told my caddy Colin that I'm going to have a hole in one this year, I know it. And then it happened today. So maybe I should say that more often.

The hole-in-one also seemed to also get things jumpstarted for the player who is currently ranked fifth in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. Creamer, who has been working on swing changes during the offseason, finished the round with an even-par 72 and sits in a T26 after one day of play.

"I'm still trying to find a bit of my rhythm," Creamer said. "I feel good to have my first round under my belt. I'm really working hard on my golf swing so I'm probably the most technical that I've ever been. That's something I have to get used to and just being out there in competition."

Creamer is far from the only player who has been working on swing changes during the offseason. Two of the players sitting one shot back of the lead have also been working on their own swing tweaks.

Anna Nordqvist fired a 4-under 68 to put herself into contention after the first day of play in Thailand. Nordqvist is coming off her first top-10 finish of the year at the season-opening ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. After making the cut right on the cut line of 7-over-par, Nordqvist fired rounds of 71 and 68 on the weekend to vault into a T10 at even-par for the tournament.

"I've done some changes with Henri Reis, my swing coach," Nordqvist said. "I just keep working on my game. I feel like things are falling into place. Even last fall, I felt like a lot of the work that I've done with him was starting to pay off. So it's a work in progress but I feel like a lot of pieces are getting in place and I feel like I'm a lot more consistent."

Karrie Webb, who also shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday, has also talked about the changes that she's been working on in her own swing and was pleased with how her swing felt on the first day of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

"Yes, on the back nine especially," Webb said when asked if her swing was feeling good. "A little scratchy on the front nine but I sort of managed it. I didn't miss too many greens and I made some good two putts from long range. But on the back nine I started to hit my irons better and gave myself quite a few birdie chances."

Home sweet home: Numa Gulyanamitta, the 2011 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament medalist, is making the second start of her rookie season and first in her native Thailand this week.

Numa, sister of former LPGA member Russy, missed the cut in her first event as a member of the LPGA last week. But this week she has her sister Russy on the bag as caddie and she's excited to play just 40 minutes away from home. She got off to a strong start with an opening round 69, which has put her just two shots off the lead after one day of play.

"It's been fun so far," Gulyanamitta said. "I've had a couple of friends come out to see me play and my parents are here. Lots of people are sending me texts and Facebook messages wishing me good luck. It's been nice so far. But it's also kind of a lot of pressure because it's my first home tournament and everybody expects you to play good since I did so well at Q School and everything. My sister kept me going and not worrying about what other people think. Just to play my golf and that's what happened today."

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