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Miyazato retakes lead entering LPGA Phoenix final round

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Ai Miyazato shot a steady 67 to take a two-shot lead after the third round in the R. R. Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club.

Miyazato entered play Saturday trailing Jee Young Lee by one stroke but regained the lead with a bogey-free round. With her 67 Saturday, Miyazto, the No. 1 player in the world for 11 weeks during the 2010 season, matched her second-round score of 67 and kept Stacy Lewis at arm's length.

Lewis, if she wins this tournament can vault into the No. 1 ranking, shot a strong 66 to complement her previous rounds of 68 and 65.

After the third round, Lewis, who was the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year, was two off the pace at 17 under, but controversy shadowed her low score.

Shooting into the bunker on 16, Lewis' caddy Travis Wilson tested the sand and officials believed he patted down the surface. That created a firmer base, official ruled, and one from which Lewis could easily wedge out.

Under rule 13.4, officials said the surface was tampered and Lewis was assessed a two-stroke penalty. That dropped the former University of Arkansas all-American to 15-under par and in a tie with Lee, four strokes behind Miyazato.

Before rendering their decision, officials deliberated over one hour.

Close behind are three at 13-under par. These include Angela Stafford, who shot the day's lowest round (65). Also tied at 13 under are Lizette Salas (third round of 66) and Anna Nordqvist (67), who locally played at Arizona State University.

Should Miyazato survive, she would capture her 10th tour victory, and the first since last July when she won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. That event netted the native of Okinawa, Japan of $300,000 in earnings.

Coming into the third round, Lee was 15-under par with Miyazato 14 under and Lewis 11 under. By the end of play Saturday, 21 players were double-digit under par.

Before the Phoenix stop on the tour, Lewis was ranked third in the world and Miyazato was ninth.

NOTES: The Phoenix stop on the tour represents a $1.5 million purse. The highest purse in the United States is $2.225 million, the LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y. The biggest money stop on the tour is the Evian Championship in Evian-les-Baines, France ($3.250,000) this September. ... The LPGA Tour continues next week with the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., with a $1.7 million purse.
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