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For Lewis, tied for lead, victory would be Hog heaven

The SportsXchange

ROGERS, Ark. -- The fans at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship are getting their wish after two rounds of play Saturday at Pinnacle Country Club.

Local favorite Stacy Lewis, the No. 2 player in the Rolex World Rankings and a graduate of nearby University of Arkansas, used a pair of birdie runs in her second round to move into a four-way tie for the lead at 10-under par with a second-round 6-under 65.

Lewis, who considers this weekend's event her most important tour stop next to the majors, was joined at the top of the leaderboard at 10-under par by tour rookie Chie Arimura of Japan, Beatriz Recari of Spain and So Yeon Ryu of South Korea.

"Today was really cool," Lewis said. "I kind of got on streaks there throughout the round and made four birdies in a row at one point and then three in a row. So it was cool.

"You could see the crowd feeling it. And I birdied 17 today, which was really cool. I think over the last few years I kind of figured out how to handle the pressure and not make it pressure and just make it fun and have fun out there."

Lewis first played in the NW Arkansas Championship as an amateur in 2007, and was declared the unofficial winner when the tournament was canceled because of poor weather after one round.

Since then, the former No. 1 player in the world has managed two top 10 finishes in five appearances at Pinnacle Country Club.

As the local hero returning home this weekend, Lewis has clearly drawn the biggest galleries and has been on the receiving end of many "Woo Pig Sooie" calls, signifying her time with the Razorbacks.

Lewis, who started the round on the back nine, carded four straight birdies from Nos. 14 through 17 got Lewis to 8-under for the tournament.

After a bogey at the par-5 18th, Lewis used a stretch of three consecutive birdies on Nos. 2 through 4 to get back to 10-under.

She briefly got to 11-under with a birdie at the par-4 eight, but fell back to 10-under with a bogey on her final hole of the day.

"I think the hard part is I'm going to want it so bad, and I know the fans are going to want me to get it really bad," Lewis said. "So, it's going to be hard.

"The hardest part is going to be staying patient and not trying to force putts in and running them through four feet by. You can't leave yourself those on these greens.

"So I'm definitely going to use the crowd some, but then I need to also just kind of scale it back and just stay in what I am doing right now, because it's working."

Arimura and Recari began the day, like Lewis, among a group of 10 players who sat two strokes off the lead at 4-under, and also posted 65s in round two.

Arimura, an LPGA Tour rookie from Japan who has 13 victories on the LPGA Japan Tour, closed with back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th holes.

Recari, the No. 25 ranked player in the world who won earlier this season at the Kia Classic, was 4-under through her first seven holes Saturday and added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 on the back nine.

Recari has hit 25-of-26 fairways and 32-of-36 greens in regulation through two rounds.

"I felt really great on the range, hitting really solid," Recari said. "And then I felt like today there are some good opportunities out there where you can be aggressive, and I took advantage of that.

"I started really low very early in the round, so that helped me keeping that momentum and felt really great."

Ryu, ranked No. 5 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, is seeking her third career win and first victory of the LPGA season. She opened with a 66 on Friday and followed with another 66 on Saturday.

Mika Miyazato, the first-round leader at 6-under, is three strokes behind after a 70 on Saturday.

Miyazato got to 10-under with birdies on four of her first five holes Saturday before bogies at Nos. 2, 3 and 5 on her final nine dropped her off the lead.

Four players -- world No. 1 Inbee Park (65), I.K Kim (64), Ji Young Oh (66) and Pornanong Phatlum (65) -- are two strokes back at 8-under in a tie for fifth.

Defending champion Ai Miyazato of Japan bounced back from a 73 in the opening round with a 64, equaling the best round of the day posted by Kim, to move into a tie for 17th.

The cut-line after Saturday's round fell at even par. Among the notables who failed to make the cut were Brittany Lincicome at 71-72 -- 143, and Michelle Wie at 75-69 -- 144.
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