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Yokomine has solid start at U.S. Women’s Open

Kyodo

Japan LPGA money leader Sakura Yokomine made an encouraging start at the U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday, sitting two shots off the pace in a tie for sixth after the opening round.

Yokomine made five birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey for an even-par 71 at Oakmont Country Club and shared sixth with Mhairi McKay of Scotland.

Yokomine highlighted her round by hitting her second shot with an 8-iron from 80 yards to within three feet for a birdie on the 18th hole.

American Brittany Lang opened with a 69 to take a one-shot lead over 2008 champion Inbee Park, South African amateur Kelli Shean, Amy Yang and M.J. Hur.

Among other Japanese players, Shinobu Moromizato carded a 72 to sit in a share of eighth. World No. 2 Ai Miyazato overcame early struggles to shoot a 73, leaving her in a tie for 22nd.

Ishikawa cards 67

GLASGOW , Scotland (Kyodo) Ryo Ishikawa shot a 4-under 67 and is two strokes off the pace after the opening round of the Scottish Open on Thursday.

Ishikawa had five birdies and one bogey, leaving him in a seven-way tie for fifth in the European Tour event used as a warm-up for next week’s British Open.

Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke turned in a bogey-free 65 to hold a one-shot lead over Edoardo Molinari of Italy, Damien McGrane of Ireland and Graeme Storm of England.

Ishikawa missed only two fairways and picked up his fifth birdie of the day by sinking a 20-footer on the par-3 17th hole at Loch Lomond Golf Club.

“I hit the ball well with my driver, so things were easier the rest of each hole,” said the 18-year-old, already a seven-time winner on the Japanese tour.

Ishikawa even outscored playing partner Phil Mickelson, who got off to a slow start with a 71 in a bid to take over the world’s top ranking from Tiger Woods.

“I was in an ideal mental condition today. I think I’m starting to get used to playing on big stages and playing alongside great players,” Ishikawa said.

“I know things won’t be easy, but I’ll stay patient and try to continue playing like I did today.”

Mickelson could end Woods’ streak of more than five years at No. 1 by winning or finishing alone in second here.

Kanemoto at top

BANDO , Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) Takashi Kanemoto had a 6-under 66 on Friday to move into a tie for the lead with Kazuhiro Yamashita at the halfway mark of The Championship by Lexus.

The 39-year-old Kanemoto, whose only career victory came at the Mitsubishi Diamond Cup in May 2009, made seven birdies against one bogey for an 8-under 136 total at Otone Country Club.

Yamashita, a winless 36-year-old, had a similarly impressive round of 67.

Koichiro Kawano and Ryuichi Oda were tied for third at 7 under after rounds of 67 and 69, respectively.

Of the two overnight co-leaders, Park Sung Joon shot a 73 to drop into a share of seventh at 5 under, while Yui Ueda was a shot further back after a 74.

Shunsuke Sonoda missed the cut by three strokes after a second-round 72.

The 20-year-old tour rookie won the Mizuno Open Yomiuri Classic two weeks ago and finished second at the Toshin Golf Tournament last week.