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Miyazato hoping to carry lead to victory
August 18, 2012

Mika Miyazato -11, Rolex Rankings No. 19
So Yeon Ryu -9, Rolex Rankings No. 12
Cristie Kerr -8, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Inbee Park -8, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Yani Tseng -7, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Paula Creamer -7, Rolex Rankings No. 12

Fourth-year LPGA member Mika Miyazato (@mikachin1010) will try to become the sixth Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2012 season, as she carries a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola (@SafewayClassic). Miyazato shot a bogey-free, 4-under 68 on Saturday on the Ghost Creek Golf Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course outside of Portland, Ore. to give herself the 36-hole lead with only 18 holes remaining in the 54-hole event.

Trailing two shots behind Miyazato is LPGA Tour rookie So Yeon Ryu (@1soyeonryu), who will try to capture wins in back-to-back weeks after capturing a victory last week at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I.

Among the other players chasing Miyazato are 2008 champion Cristie Kerr (@CKGolferChic), who is three shots back and seeking her first victory in over two years, and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, who fired the low round of the day (5-under 67) and sits four back heading into Sunday.

Mika Miyazato has been knocking on the door for her first LPGA Tour victory in recent weeks and she’s once again put herself in position to perhaps finally earn that win.

Miyazato has tallied five top-10 finishes in her past six events and has finished no worse than T16 over that stretch. The Okinawa, Japan native even recorded back-to-back, runner-up finishes at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G in June.

Now the 22-year-old will carry a two-shot lead into Sunday’s final round. So does she think that she’s ready to finally clinch the win?

“I’m always ready,” Miyazato said with a laugh.

“I have so much good experience the last four or five events,” she added. “But I don't know how much closer to win the tournament. I tried to focus on my golf game one shot at a time.”

There have been five Rolex First-Time Winners on the LPGA Tour so far this season. Miyazato will try to join Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lang, and So Yeon Ryu who all earned that distinction this year.

Ryu, who earned her first win as an LPGA member last week in Toledo, was paired with Miyazato for the first two rounds of the Safeway Classic. The two have known each other since they were young, having played for the South Korean and Japanese national teams respectively. And over the first two rounds, the two fed off each other’s strong play.

“It’s very good motivation for me,” Miyazato said of Ryu’s play.

While Mika Miyazato leads by two shots heading into Sunday’s final round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, rookie So Yeon Ryu is hungry to keep a winning-streak after her win at last week’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.

Ryu admits she is still on cloud nine following her win last week, but she knows she needs to concentrate to pull out another win.

“I think it's really hard to keep focusing on my golf after my winning,” Ryu said. “But how I can say? Last week the tournament is already finished, so I'm just thinking about this week. That's why I played well, I think. And especially today I played really well. The front nine I shot 5-under on the front nine, but unfortunately the back nine I made one bogey, and I missed a lot of birdie putts. So today I finished at 4-under.

“I think my problem is I just missed a couple of utility shots. So I have to practice some of my utility and practice some putts. I'm ready to sink some putts tomorrow.”

With seemingly identical games so far this week in Portland, Miyazato and Ryu will pair up again for Sunday’s round. Ryu believes this pairing generates a perfectly friendly, yet tight competition.

“I think she's ready to make a win,” Ryu said of Miyazato’s performance this year. “But I think the problem is 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. But I want to make another win after this week. So I want to make a great competition with her.”

Yani Tseng was asked to sum up her round of 5-under-par 67 on Saturday and her answer was likely what many others thought when they saw the score from the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

“It’s been a long time,” Tseng said with a smile.

Tseng fired her first sub-70 round in more than two months during Saturday’s second round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. Her 67 moved her into a T6 at 7-under-par and she will head into Sunday’s final round sitting four shots behind leader, Mika Miyazato. It was her lowest round since she shot 67 in the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic on June 2.

Coming off two straight missed cuts at the Evian Masters and the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I, Tseng said that she looked to Rory McIlroy’s victory at last week’s PGA Championship as inspiration.

“He had four missed cuts in a row, I only have two, so I'm better off than he was,” Tseng said. “But he's just trying to forget about everything, and just go out there and try to do the best that he can. I watched his interview before I played. He was saying this is the thing that he always do when he was a kid, so there is [no reason] to put more pressure and be hard on yourself. Just be more relaxed and enjoy every shot that you can.

“He said when you play good, it's always easy to do it. But when you're playing bad, it's very hard to do. I just feel like my vacation is finished. I had a two month vacation the last couple months, so I feel that's long enough for me. I need to get back as quick as possible and enjoy the golf course.”

Cristie Kerr didn’t have her best day on the golf course on Saturday, tallying four birdies and two bogeys en route to a 2-under 70. But the 14-time winner on the LPGA Tour still finds herself in contention at 8-under-par, as she’s three shot back of leader Mika Miyazato. So she’ll have a chance to end her two-year winless drought heading into Sunday’s final round.

‘Not to call it that, but it's Cristie Kerr golf,” she said of her play Saturday. “Even when I haven't played my best, I still shoot 2- to 3-under and give myself a chance, and I've done that. Typically the winner of this tournament shoots low for the win on Sunday. So that's what's going to have to be done.”

Kerr, who won this event back in 2008 when it was still played at Columbia Edgewater, knows that it will likely take a fair number of birdies in the final round to capture the win. Last year, Suzann Pettersen came from nine shots back to capture the win after shooting an 8-under 64 on Sunday. So does Kerr have a specific number in her mind to shoot on Sunday?

“You can kind of predict what the winning score will be because the weather's going to be good,” Kerr said. “It's going to be pretty much like this tomorrow, so I think at least 14- or 15-under would probably win. So she's at 11 right now. She's played good, but it's golf. It's sport. You can't predict it. So I'm just going to try to go out and shoot as low as I can.”

Although she’s typically one of the more silent players on Tour, Inbee Park seems to be making a name for herself this season. With six top-10 finishes in the last six events, including her second career win at the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale, the six-year veteran is certain that she can keep the streak going.

“I feel really confident, especially after the win at Evian, and I think my game is going well right now,” Park said. “So it's just time to play good. I'm really happy with the way I'm playing right now.”

Park posted a tie for 12th at the 54-hole ShopRite LPGA Classic event just before her stretch of top-10s, but now that she’s got her game straight she knows what it takes to finish well at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola.

“You've got to play good all three days to win out here,” Park said. “You've really got to push yourself to put up good scores on the three days, because it's one day shorter.”

A total of 76 players made the cut, which fell at 3-over-par 147

“It feels good to be sitting here, talking to you guys too, having an interview after I played. I mean, I haven't been in the unt for a long time already. So it's always good. I still feel there is a long way to go this year. We have so many tournaments. I just feel good right now.” – Yani Tseng after her round of 67

Defending champion Suzann Pettersen shot her second consecutive round of 1-under 71 and sits in a T26 at 2-under-par…Laura Diaz eagled the par-4 7th hole as she holed out from 158 yards…Co-first-round leader Sydnee Michaels shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and the LPGA Tour rookie sits in a T5 at 7-under-par.

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