Saiki edges clear of pack at Evian Masters
22 Jul 2011 - 18:30:59
Miki Saiki, a three-time winner on the Japanese Tour, carded six birdies in a second round 67 here Friday to stand on nine under par and edge one clear of the pack at the halfway stage of the Evian Masters.
Five players shared second place on eight under, including Japan's former world No.1, Ai Miyazato, who won the title in 2009, and the Kraft Nabisco Champion, Stacy Lewis, while the 2005 winner Paula Creamer was another shot back on seven under after a 67.
Speaking through an interpreter, 26-year-old Saiki, from Hiroshima, put her scoring down to good form with her putter and a change in weather that saw sunshine and warmth replace torrential rain and cold conditions.
Lewis had been totally disgruntled after a first round 69 that concluded with three bogeys in the final four holes.
But the 26-year-old American was all smiles after a seven birdie second round of 67 that included a chip-in at the short 14th.
"I could have gone out with the same attitude that I finished with yesterday (Thursday) - mad and upset - but I didn't let myself do that and that made me very happy," said 26-year-old Lewis, whose win in the Kraft Nabisco, the first major of this season, is her only professional victory.
Miyazato shot a second successive 68, six birdies lighting up a very solid performance.
"Finally we got some good weather and that made me happy. I'm looking forward to the weekend. I have so many god memories from getting my first LPGA win here and I'll be pushing for more birdies," she said.
Creamer was only 18 when she won the Evian in 2005 - she romped home by a runaway eight shots.
"I won by so many back then that sometimes I get hard on myself," said the 2010 US Women's Open champion.
"Over the next two rounds I just have to keep grinding away, grinding out the putts. I know I can do it because I love this place and all the happy memories."
Korea's Shin Jiyai, the defending champion, stayed well in contention with two 69s for a place in the top ten on six under, but Yani Tseng, the world No.1, has some ground to make up after falling seven off the pace.
The Taiwan 22-year-old struggled on the back nine, taking 39 for a round of 73.
Sweden's Maria Hjorth, who birdied the final two holes for a 69, American Angela Stanford, with a best of day 66, and South Korea's Ahn Shin-Ae (69) were also in the group in joint second place but with 17 players within four shots of Saiki, the race for the 2.29 million euro first prize remains wide open.
Montelimar's Virginie Lagouutte-Clement was five off the lead on four under par and continued to head the home challenge and boost her hopes of collecting Solheim Cup ranking points. The 32-year-old fired a 71.
Two big names to miss the cut that fell on one over par were England's two-time former winner Laura Davies, she finished on three over par, and American Michelle Wie, who was second behind Creamer when she was a 15-year-old amateur.
She shot 76 and 73 for five over par.