Miyazato's opening-round 63 sets course record in LPGA event

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Ai Miyazato shot 5 under par on a four-stretch hole of the back nine Thursday en route to a course-record, 9-under 63 in the opening round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at the Wildfire Golf Club.

Miyazato holds a two-stroke lead over Jee Young Lee.

Miyazato was 4 under par heading into the 14th hole before she carded three birdies and an eagle on the next four holes. She finished the day with seven birdies and an eagle to top the previous course record of 65.

"I hit the ball well and my putting was really good," Miyazato said. "And I think I had good course management as well."

The 27-year-old from Japan was the runner-up in last year's tournament. She owns a home in Phoenix that she bought two years ago to be closer to her mental coach and resides part time there. The familiarity of the city is comforting, she said.

"I'm just staying home nice and relaxed and it makes me feel good," she said. "It feels like a hometown."

Lee had nine birdies and two bogeys. She was followed by Candie Kung, Pornanong Phatlum, Gerina Piller and Brittany Lang, all tied for third place at 6-under 66.

Kung birdied her first two holes of the day and was 3 under as she rounded the turn. She ended her round with five birdies, an eagle and one bogey.

Although Kung was pleased with her performance, she admitted she was a bit puzzled by the course.

"I think the greens are tricky. They're firm, but they roll slow. I didn't get it," she said. "I have absolutely no idea how those balls went in."

Lexi Thompson, Sandra Gal, Jiyai Shin and Katherine Hull-Kirk are tied for seventh at 5-under 67.

Thompson was 3 under on the back nine to start her round, but a double-bogey on No. 3 dropped her to 1 under. She went birdied Nos. 4 and 7 and eagled No. 5 to climb back to 5 under.

"I had a few rough holes out there, but I fought back," Thompson said. "And that's what golf is all about."

Stacy Lewis, the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year, finished with a 4-under 68 and is tied for 11th. Lewis won the HSBC Women's Champions Tournament in Singapore earlier this month and is ranked third in the Rolex Rankings.

Defending champion Yani Tseng is tied for 39th place after a 2-under 70. She won the event by one shot last year, edging Miyazato and Na Yeon Choi. Karrie Webb, who won the tournament in 2011, also shot 2-under 70.

Juli Inkster, a 52-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer, had seven birdies and three bogeys on her way to a 4-under 68.

The event, in its third year, features a field of 132 golfers competing for a $1.5 million purse. The 72-hole tournament is fourth event of the 2013 season and the first stop in the United States. The final round is Sunday.

NOTES: Michelle Wie shot a 2-over 74. She bogeyed four holes and birdied two. She is tied for 110th place. ... Natalie Gulbis was forced to withdraw from the event after she contracted malaria on one of the Tour's opening stops in Asia. Gulbis also withdrew from the HSBC Women's Champions Tournament in Singapore after the second round because of the illness. ... Jennifer Gleason had a hole-in-one on the par-3 14th from 171 yards with a 5-hybrid. She finished the day tied for 11th after a 68. ... Meena Lee aced the 6th hole from 170 yards. She shot a 76. ... Thompson, an 18-year-old Florida native, was featured this week in the magazine Teen Vogue. She said it was an honor to be considered a role model for young golfers and young women alike. "Without fans, these tournaments wouldn't be going on, and it'd be pretty boring if nobody was out there watching us. So it means a lot to me, and I'll sign every autograph no matter what I shoot," she said.
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