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Felibert still four shots ahead going into final round
June 30, 2012

Veronica Felibert -11, Rolex Rankings No. 723
Mika Miyazato -7, Rolex Rankings No. 22
Ai Miyazato -6, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Brittany Lang -6, Rolex Rankings No. 24
Katie Futcher -6, Rolex Rankings No. 65
Ryann O'Toole -6, Rolex Rankings No. 131

Rookie Veronica Felibert will attempt to become the first Venezuelan to win on the LPGA Tour, as she carries a four-shot lead into the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. Felibert fired a 5-under 66 in Saturday’s second round at Pinnacle Country Club to move to 11-under-par overall with 18 holes remaining in the 54 hole-event.

Felibert is the third Venezuelan to play on the LPGA Tour, joining Chela Quintana and Maru Martinez. After shooting 65 on Friday to take the first-round lead, Felibert said that she received text messages from both players congratulating her.

“It would mean everything,” Felibert said of becoming the first Venezuelan to win on Tour. “The other two players from Venezuela, they texted me yesterday and like, hey, congratulations, great round, keep it up, you know. So it's kind of nice to have their support.”

Felibert will have a large share of players chasing her during Sunday’s final round. Sitting three shots behind Felibert at 7-under-par are 2008 U.S. Women’s Open champion Inbee Park and Japanese native Mika Miyazato, who is still seeking her first victory on the LPGA Tour. There is also a group of five players at 6-under-par, which includes last week’s winner Brittany Lang.

If Felibert can hold on in Sunday’s final round, she will also become the first rookie to win on Tour since Beatriz Recari became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2010 CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge.

“There are feelings that I cannot express right now because it's what I have dreamt all my life for, so it's pretty cool to see my name up there,” Felibert said of holding the lead entering Sunday. “But at the same time I have been trying to not think too much about it, just play one shot at a time and just enjoy. I'm having a lot of fun and I like it.”

Perhaps the best birthday gift that Veronica Felibert received on Saturday was one that she gave herself. The LPGA Tour rookie shot a 4-under 67 to put herself in sole possession of the lead heading into Sunday’s final round. It was just the second round she’s shot in the 60s on the LPGA Tour, the first coming on Friday.

Felibert turned 27 on Saturday and her stellar round has put her in good position to become a Rolex First-Time Winner in what is just her fifth LPGA event. She had made just one cut previously on the LPGA Tour, finishing tied for 70th at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic back in April.

And her birthday did not go unnoticed on Saturday either. She was serenaded with the “Happy Birthday” song by the crowd at Pinnacle Country Club on the first hole and then again on No. 17 and 18.

“I've never been sang happy birthday that many times in a day,” Felibert said, breaking into a smile.

Eat! If there was one piece of advice that nearly every player at the top of the leaderboard gave for beating the heat this week in Arkansas, it was this – make sure to keep yourself fed!

While the common thought is always to make sure that you’re hydrated when temperatures soar, players like Mika Miyazato, who is tied for second at 7-under-par, gave credit to eating enough food when

“I played a practice round in the afternoon so I knew about the heat and how to deal with the hot weather today,” Miyazato said. “So I really tried to focus on eating more food laug.”

Ryann O’Toole reiterated that she tried to focus on getting enough food in her body because it’s often the thing that players forget to do.

“I take these things called highlights, which are legal, they're just electrolytes that you take in pill form, so they really help to hydrate you, and between the frog skin stuff that Walmart has donated to us, that's helped a lot, just staying cool, walking under an umbrella,” O’Toole said of some of her tips to beat the heat. “And eating, I think that's the one thing that people miss out there is when you're hot, you don't want to eat. I think you've still got to keep fueling yourself.”

2011 U.S. Solheim Cup Team member Ryann O’Toole has had a big of an up-and-down season missing five cuts and only finishing in the top-20 once. In the hunt at this week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, O’Toole has referred back to her trusty journal that she writes in from tournament to tournament.

“This is kind of dorky, but I journal usually from tournament to tournament, so last week I was reading back to last year and the events that I played well and I was just going, okay, what was working for me,” said O’Toole. “And one thing that I keyed in on was staying in the moment and not thinking about the bogey I just had or the holes that I could birdie, and I think that really helped a lot.”

O’Toole has also turned to the book Fearless Golf which focuses on the mental aspects of golf including visualization on the golf course.

“I started reading this book, Fearless Golf, and they were talking about questions that you ask yourself, and I think my biggest thing has been more the mental game and mentally keeping myself in the right thinking process,” said O’Toole. “And, you know, they talked about what kind of questions are going in your head, or when you have doubt, why are you thinking these thoughts. So the book like asks you what color's your car, what color is the American flag so you obviously start visualizing those things. So out on the course I started asking myself, how do I want to hit this shot, where do I want it to go, or even things like what do the top players do in this state of mind. You know, coming down the stretch, what are they thinking, how are they acting. I think that's really keeping me in the moment.”

Prior to O’Toole’s rounds of 68-68, she had only previously shot in the 60’s once this season which came when she shot a 69 in the first-round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. O’Toole will turn to her impressive history on the Symetra Tour and Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour in her attempt to become the fifth Rolex First-Time Winner this season.

O’Toole won twice on the Symetra Tour and won the 2011 Australian Shortcourse Championship on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour.

It didn’t take long for Brittany Lang to put herself back at the top of the leaderboard following her first career victory at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic last week. Lang made her presence felt in Rogers, Arkansas on Saturday, as she carded the lowest round of the week with an 8-under 63 in the second round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G.

But it was a round that took a little while to get going. When Lang made the turn after starting the day on No. 10, she was just 1-under-par. So she and her fellow playing partner Suzann Pettersen decided to make a little side wager to get things going on their back nine.

“Suzann was telling me it was kind of boring out there so she wanted to play a birdie game, $20 birdies, and we both birdied the first two holes and I don't think we realized it was the $20 birdie game,” said Lang, who tallied five birdies and 1 eagle over her final nine holes. “At the end she told me she's not playing the money game ever again because she made three birdies and still lost $80.”

Closing out her round with a 7-under 29, Lang fell one stroke shy of the tournament record, 62, which was shot by Angela Park and Jane Park during the event in 2008. Still, the round put Lang in a five-way tie for fourth. Does her victory last week change how she feels about heading into the final round of this week’s event at the top of the leaderboard?

“For sure I feel more comfortable,” said Lang. “Like I said before, I used to be afraid to be in the lead and be afraid to be in that position, but regardless of what happens tomorrow, I feel okay being there now and I know I can handle it well.”

Looking to notch her second LPGA Tour victory of the season , Ai Miyazato knows she will have to stay aggressive on Sunday if she wants to record her ninth career win.

“Just try and stay prepared out there,” said Miyazato of her strategy on Sunday. “I think I still need also birdies tomorrow, so just maybe a little bit more aggressive and we'll see what's going to happen.”

Since 2008, the highest score to win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G came in 2009 when Jiyai Shin shot 9-under-par. The record low to win the tournament was 13-under-par shot by Yani Tseng in 2010.

Miyazato is coming off a missed cut at last week’s Manulife Financial LPGA Classic and has recorded four top-five finishes this season.

Known as one of the fittest players on the LPGA Tour, Katie Futcher has leaned heavily on her good physical and mental condition to battle scorching temperatures at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G and shoot rounds of 69-67.

“Well, I mean, I think it's an advantage any time,” said Futcher of her physical and mental advantage. “But in the heat, I mean, I think more it's that I feel better mentally. It's not necessarily physically, but I feel like I have a slighter edge just mentally. And I know that I'm fit and I know that I can handle it and I train hard for certain days, days like today and in the heat, so I feel like it gives me a little bit more of maybe a mental advantage.”

Futcher calls Houston, Texas home and admitted, the temperatures could be higher there than in Rogers, Ark. making her quite accustomed to this week’s heat.

“I'm really quite used to it,” said Futcher of the heat. “I don't even think this is as hot as Houston, so yeah, I'm quite used to it. I don't like it, but I'm used to it, I guess.”

A total of 72 players made the cut, which fell at 1-over-par 143

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a 3-over 74 on Saturday to finish at 5-over-par and miss her first cut since the 2011 Avnet LPGA Classic. It ended a stretch of 26 events without a missed cut for the two-time defending champion and world No. 1Morgan Pressel withdrew during the second round due to a thumb injury and Se Ri Pak withdrew after the first round of play.

WALMART NW ARKANSAS
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