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Miyazato and Lewis share first day lead
June 01, 2012

Stacy Lewis and Mika Miyazato jumped out in front of the field in the first round of the 2012 ShopRite LPGA Classic and sit atop the leaderboard at 6-under par. Both fired rounds of 65 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club to take a two-shot lead. Lewis and Miyazato carded six and four birdies respectively, four coming on the front nine for Lewis while Miyazato had two on both the front and back nine. Paula Creamer and Mariajo Uribe sit two shots off the lead after shooting opening rounds of 67 and are tied for third.

First-round co-leader Stacy Lewis came into the ShopRite LPGA Classic confident where her game is at this point in the season and showed some calm nerves after an up-and-down stretch of holes after she made the turn. Lewis, who tee’d off on No. 10 in the first round, birdied the par-4 first, double bogeyed the second and went on the eagle the par-5 No. 3 before carding a par on the fourth hole. Lewis expected some shaky play coming into the week as she knew that the Bay Course at Seaview Resort always gives players trouble.

“I think more than anything on this golf course you're going to hit some bad shots or get a bad bounce and you're going to make a bogey or double,” said Lewis. “So I knew that coming into the week. I just took it for what it was. And I knew I had a par-5 coming and I could make it up.”

Lewis credited her mental game for not losing her focus and concentrating on each shot as they came.

“I hit some good shots and I stayed patient,” said Lewis. “It was really hard. You really kind of had to stay in the moment and can't get too far ahead of yourself.”

Rolex Rankings No. 36 and first-round co-leader Mika Miyazato has had a so-so season so far in 2012. She went through a stretch of three straight missed cuts and in seven starts this season, her season-best finish was a T21 at her first event of year at the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012. But after carding a 6-under par 65 on Friday, the Japan native is ready to put on a show for the South Jersey crowd.

Leading off the tournament as part of the first group on No. 1, Miyazato said there’s no pressure being in the first group but she’s not necessarily a fan of that tee time.

“I want more of a crowd,” said Miyazato. “That makes me more comfortable, like the (crowd at the) 18th hole.”

If the fourth-year Tour member keeps up solid play through tomorrow, she’ll be happy to be in the leader group on Sunday. Miyazato has one international win, when she won the Japan Women’s Open in 2010 on the JLPGA and is still looking to record her first LPGA Tour victory.

Rolex Rankings No.13 Paula Creamer went out on a high note for her first round on Friday, carding an eagle on the par 5 18th hole. It’s her second eagle of the 2012 season. Creamer hit a line-drive approach shot from about 235 yards with her 3-wood and was left with a six-foot eagle putt. The shot earned her Golf Channel’s Volvik Shot of the Day but didn’t leave her totally comfortable with what might have looked like an easy putt.

“It wasn't a gimme by any means, so I grinded it out and made a good six-footer and it was nice,” said Creamer. “It was a nice way to finish.”

The nine-time LPGA Tour winner shot a 4-under-par 67 and sits in third heading into Saturday’s second-round, two shots off the lead. Creamer is looking to best her T3 finish at the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup 2012, her highest finish of the season, although it came in an unofficial event. She’s been playing consistent, solid golf all season, recording five top-25 finishes, but has been having some effective practices that she hopes will help her peak in time for a stretch of major championships coming up on the schedule.

“I don't want it to peak too soon by any means, but yes, I do feel the work I've been doing is starting to pay off,” said Creamer. “I've had a lot of really good practices on my week off, but I think last week was probably one of the best ones I've had in a long time.”

Creamer says translating perfect practice to tournaments has been a challenge for her all season.

“I don't know what it was,” she said. “We did a lot of video work, and something just really clicked. I feel my golf swing a lot more than what I have in the last several tournaments, and I can do it on a driving range day in and day out. It's just taking it to the golf course.”

At 6,155 yards, the par 71 Bay Course at Seaview Resort will be the shortest course the LPGA Tour plays on in the 2012 season. But shorter doesn’t necessarily mean easier, especially with the tricky, small greens players will be battling this week.

“I've always grown up on tree-lined narrow golf courses, making -- you have to shape the ball, work the ball, do all types of things, have creativity,” said Creamer. “That's what I like. I enjoy that. I don't think it necessarily has to be 7,000 yards to prove somebody is a good golfer.”

With the change up of a three-day event on the schedule this week, some pros took different approaches to how they were going to manage a shortened tournament week. Mariajo Uribe sits just two shots off the lead after shooting an opening-round 67 and feels good about her strong start. She came into the week trying to treat it as a regular four-day tournament.

“It's kind of the same thing,” said Uribe. “You definitely want to be in contention from the beginning, but just stay patient. It's kind of good, too, because if you have a good round, it's only three days, so that kind of gets you the head start for the weekend.”

Creamer sees it as a challenging set-up, one that pushes players for near-perfect rounds each day.

“Three-day tournaments, I think they're almost harder than four days because you have no room for error,” said Creamer. “If you start off on the wrong foot, then you're chasing the whole time. You don't really have that much golf left, but if you put yourself in contention it makes it a lot easier going into tomorrow and Sunday.”

The Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club sits on the coast of Reeds Bay, in viewing distance from Atlantic City and in the perfect location to receive strong Jersey shore winds. Players said windy first-round conditions made the course even tougher to play than its reputation. Paula Creamer, who shot 4-under on Friday, said longer club selection came into play when shooting into the wind.

“It played tough,” said Creamer. “The golf course definitely played hard. It was very windy. The harder holes on the golf course were even more hard. I don't even know how to explain it, except to say even more how tough it was. A lot of long clubs into some par 4s that normally we're hitting 6, 7-irons and now we're hitting woods into.”

Mariajo Uribe, who is tied for third with Creamer said the wind was definitely a factor, especially closer to the water.

ShopRite LPGA Classic champion Brittany Lincicome has some work ahead her in order to defend her title this week. The Rolex Rankings No.12 carded a 1-over par 72 in her opening round and sits seven shots off the lead. Coming off her first-career victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship, Azahara Munoz carded a 2-under par 69 and is currently T6 with six others. I.K. Kim will be announced as a Special Olympics Ambassador tomorrow at a press conference at 2p.m. ET at the ShopRite LPGA Classic media center.

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