• Kyodo


Ai Miyazato carded a second straight 3-under-par 69 to grab sole possession of the lead at the Japan Women’s Open on Friday.

The popular 20-year-old, who is aiming to become the youngest ever Japan Women’s Open winner, made five birdies against a pair of bogeys at Totsuka Country Club in Yokohama to move four shots clear of first round co-leader Kasumi Fujii and Yoko Inoue on 6-under 138.

Teeing off from the 10th, Miyazato bogeyed her opening hole but quickly regrouped to pick up three shots with birdies on the 12th, 13th and 17th holes.

She added two more birdies on her outward journey but closed with a bogey when she missed a par-saving putt on the par-4 ninth.

“It was a bit of a wasted opportunity with the bogey on the last hole but I thought I had a good round today,” said Miyazato.

“It’s the second day I have started with a bogey and I need to work on getting off to a better start.”

Miyazato, who last week booked a spot in the final qualifier for the U.S. LPGA Tour, avoided making any predictions on her chances of winning her fourth title of the season.

“Of course my goal is to go for the top but this is a major and anything can happen.”

Fujii could only muster a 2-over 73 while Inoue moved into second on 142 after carding a 70.

Elsewhere, U.S. LPGA tour player Akiko Fukushima climbed into fourth on 143 after a 70 and was followed by veteran Ikuyo Shiotani and Shinobu Moromizato, who is making her professional debut here, in fifth.

Defending champion Yuri Fudo recovered from a disastrous first-round 78 with a 1-under 71 but was 11 strokes behind Miyazato in a tie for 26th on 149. Sakura Yokomine, winner of last week’s Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open, failed to make the cut.

The winner of the four-day 70 million yen event in Yokohama will take home 14 million yen Sunday.

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