KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Strong winds made an impact on Thursday's second round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in West Oahu, and Ai Miyazato in turn made a familiar charge to the top of the leaderboard.
Miyazato, the event's defending champion, took sole possession of first place at 9-under-par 135 after firing a 4-under 68 early in the day.
The No. 9 player in the Rolex Rankings finished her round on the front nine, and she used a blistering streak of five birdies through the final seven holes, including a long birdie putt from the edge of the green on the par-3 8th, to skyrocket into the lead.
The Japan native entered this week with three top-25 finishes so far in 2013, including a runner-up position at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup a month ago in Phoenix. Miyazato claimed last year's inaugural Lotte event, holding off Spain's Azahara Munoz and South Korea's Meena Lee by four strokes.
Hyo Joo Kim, a 17-year-old from South Korea, finished at 1 under on the day to move her to 7 under and into a second-place tie for the tourney among Thursday's early finishers. The KLPGA member birdied two of the final five holes to push her second-round score under par. Fellow South Korean Hee Kyung Seo, the 2011 Rookie of the Year, emerged unscathed with an even-par 72 to remain at 7 under.
No. 2 ranked Stacy Lewis carded a 71 to pull into fifth place at 6 under for the event. The two-time winner in 2013 can regain the No. 1 ranking with a victory this week.
Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn took a few steps back a day after shooting a tournament-record-tying 64, which resulted in her owning the lead after round one. On Thursday, the 17-year-old shot 75 on the heels of two birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey on the par-3 16th -- quite a departure from her seven birdies and an eagle notched Wednesday. Despite the setback, the Ladies European Tour rookie remains in contention with a two-day mark of 5 under.