KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) – Spain's Azahara Munoz shot an 8-under 64 in blustery conditions Thursday for a share of the second-round lead with Japan's Ai Miyazato in the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
Munoz, winless on the LPGA Tour, holed out from 102 yards for eagle on the par-4 sixth hole and had eight birdies – four on the last five holes – and a bogey on the Ko Olina course.
“The good thing about this wind is at least it's consistent,'' said Munoz, the 2008 NCAA champion at Arizona State. “When it's gusting it's really difficult to judge. But I don't feel that the wind really bothers me, especially after yesterday, because yesterday was super strong.''
Miyazato, a seven-time winner on the tour, had a bogey-free 65 to match Munoz at 8 under.
“I grow up in a kind of windy place, too, so when it gets windy, it makes me thinking of my hometown, too,'' Miyazato said. “So it's pretty comfortable for me.
She had only 25 putts.
“My putting was really good today,'' Miyazato said. “I hit really solid on so many putts and I hit the ball well. I didn't miss any fairways. My short game was really good, too. That's why I shot 7 under.''
Munoz birdied the par-5 14th and par-4 15th, parred the par-3 16th, then closed with two more birdies on the par-4 17th and 18th. She was 5 under on the first six holes, making birdies on Nos. 1, 3 and 5, the eagle on No. 6 and a bogey on No. 2 when she missed a 2-foot putt.
“On six, I holed my second shot and then hit another two like that close,'' Munoz said, holding her hands about a foot apart. “It was a really nice round.''
She won the Ladies European Tour's 2009 Madrid Masters for her lone professional victory and was a member of the winning 2011 European Solheim Cup team.
“I've been hitting the ball much better, but my putting was kind of out,'' Munoz said. “These last two weeks I been working really hard on my putting. I kind of changed my setup and I think I'm stroking it better, and I think it's paying off.''
Jimin Kang and Cristie Kerr were 6 under. Kang had a 66, and Kerr a 68.
“You have to definitely control your ball flight,'' Kerr said about the windy conditions. “If you get a hook wind and the pin is on the left side, you've got to aim right and not hook it. You have to really control the shape of your shots. When it's windy, it's definitely more creative. I think that's why you're seeing a lot of top players at the top.''
Suzann Pettersen (69), Meena Lee (65) and Brittany Lang (70) were 5 under. Paula Creamer, the winner in 2008 in the tour's last visit to Ko Olina, was 4 under after a 67.
Yani Tseng, the top-ranked Taiwanese star who has won three of the first six events this year, had a 72 to drop into a tie for 12th at 3 under.
Local favorite Michelle Wie missed the cut for the third straight event, following her opening 78 with a 76. She had a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 first – her 10th hole of the round.
Wie also played poorly in no-cut events in Thailand and Singapore. Coming into this week, she was 119th in scoring average at 75.42 and had only one round in the 60s. Once one of the longest players in women's golf, Wie is 44th in driving distance (255 yards) and 137th in driving accuracy (43 percent).
Beth Bader, the first-round leader after a 68, had a 77 to fall into a tie for 41st at 1 over.