Friday, April 01, 2016


Miyazato, Munoz share ANA Inspiration lead, Catriona Matthew tied 3rd on four under par

Ai Miyazato co-leads after the first round of the ANA Inspiration.
Ai Miyazato co-leads after the first round of the ANA Inspiration. ( Getty Images ) 
In 12 previous LPGA starts in 2016, Ai Miyazato and Azahara Munoz had combined for just one top-30 finish. But that didn't seem to matter on Thursday.
The pair matched scores of 5-under 67 at Mission Hills' Dinah Shore Tournament Course, moving into an early share of the lead at the ANA Inspiration. Miyazato went bogey-free and Munoz posted a flawless scorecard until a surprising bogey at the par-5 18th.
“It's always exciting to be here,” Miyazato said. “I know a lot of history and background. Well, obviously I haven't really played well on this golf course, but finally my game is coming all together."
That on-course progression began emerging last week. Ahead of the Kia Classic, Miyazato's best finish all year had been a tie for 50th. But thanks to bookend rounds of 67 and 66 at Aviara Golf Club, Miyazato posted a third-place showing in California.
She's followed it up with another score in the mid-60s, and apparently the nine-time LPGA winner saw all of this coming.
“I’ve been feeling good about my game since the beginning of the season,” Miyazato said. “I said to myself just be patient until the scoring is going to be good. I had a good self talk since the beginning of the season, so I actually had have confidence since then.”
Following a similar path in performances, Munoz is also starting to see her labor bear fruit. The one-time LPGA winner has also espoused a positive attitude despite her results not matching her outlook.
“It's funny because I've been really working on my attitude, but the results haven't really showed, even though I've been doing so much better,” Munoz told the media. “But I just -- I know I need to keep believing in myself."
While nobody went too low in Rancho Mirage, California on the opening day of the first women's Major of the season, a total of 39 players ended it in red, sub-par figures. 
Former Women's British Open champion Catriona Matthew from North Berwick leads a trio tied third at 4 under, while several big names lurk a tiny further back.
Lexi Thompson and Ha Na Jang (3 under) and Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Michelle Wie (2 under) all find themselves within a few of the lead.
Hannah O'Sullivan's 72 marked the best among the amateur contingent on Thursday. Leona Maguire, No 1 in the Women's Amateur Rankings, had a 75.
Dame Laura Davies believes Lydia Ko will be pushed to match the achievements of the legendary Annika Sorenstam despite the "incredible" start to her career.
Ko has already won 11 LPGA Tour titles at the age of 18 despite the presence of consistently strong fields, including a vast South Korean contingent led by current world No 2 and seven-time major champion Inbee Park.
The teenage superstar is favourite to land her second straight major at this week's ANA Inspiration in California, where she opened with a solid two-under 70 to lie just three off the early pace.
Lydia Ko has already won 11 LPGA Tour titles before her 19th birthday
Lydia Ko has already won 11 LPGA Tour titles before her 19th birthday
"This (tournament) is one of the biggest events of the year for the ladies, and it's basically our version of The Masters," Davies told Sky Sports. "It's at the same course every year, and it's a great place. As soon as you get through the gates, you feel the atmosphere, see the set up and you know it's a major.
"It's such a top course. You get very long rough which you don't have every week, and it's a course where the better players will win. You cannot get away with playing average golf, you've got to be on top of your game, and that's why I'd pick Lydia Ko to win.
"Hopefully Charley Hull will have a good run, and Inbee Park finished second last week so I wouldn't be surprised to see her and Lydia fighting out another tournament.
"Lydia is just incredible. To put her achievements into perspective, I won 20 LPGA Tour events over 28 years, and she's already won 11 in three years and she's still only 18. A winning rate of four per year is extraordinary, and it's so tough to be that consistent because every week sees a strong field.
Annika Sorenstam won a remarkable 93 professional titles, including 10 majors
       Annika Sorenstam won a remarkable 93 professional titles, including 10 majors
"The prospect of her keeping that up should be a little unrealistic, and I thought it would be impossible to match what Annika Sorenstam achieved in her career. But the way Lydia has started out, she's on pace to keep up with Annika. Time will tell if she can keep this going, and if she can, it will be astounding.
"She just doesn't hit any bad shots, and if she does miss the odd green, she gets up and down most of the time because her short game is so good. She literally has no weaknesses."

Live LPGA Tour Golf

April 1, 2016, 5:00pm
Live on
Scroll down past this new picture of Catriona Matthew to view all the first-round scores

       Catriona in Matthew in action in California yesterday - picture by Joyce Hunnam.

  Par 72
T1 Ai Miyazato 67

T1 Azahara Munoz 67

T3 Shiho Oyama 68

T3 Lee-Anne Pace 68

T3 Catriona Matthew 68

T6 Ariya Jutanugarn 69

T6 Gerina Piller 69 .
T6 Amy Yang 69
T6 In Gee Chun 69
T6 Ha Na Jang 69
T6 Lexi Thompson 69
T6 Mi Hyang Lee 69
T6 Ryann O'Toole 69
T14 Caroline Masson 70
T14 Michelle Wie 70
T14 I.K. Kim 70 .
T14 Lydia Ko 70
T14 Na Yeon Choi 70
T14 Charley Hull 70
T14 Kelly Tan 70
T14 Jennifer Song 70
T14 Inbee Park 70
T14 Alena Sharp 70
T24 Juli Inkster 71
T24 Mika Miyazato 71
T24 Hyo-Joo Kim 71
T24 Minjee Lee 71
T24 Suzann Pettersen 71 .
T24 Kris Tamulis 71
T24 Ayako Uehara 71
T24 Sung Hyun Park 71
T24 Candie Kung 71
T24 Lizette Salas 71
T24 Karine Icher 71
T24 Shanshan Feng 71
T24 Xiyu Lin 71
T24 Paula Reto 71
T24 Simin Feng 71
T24 Pernilla Lindberg 71 .
T40 Jodi Ewart Shadoff   72
T40 Caroline Hedwall 72
T40 Hannah O'Sullivan (am) 72
T40 Sandra Gal 72
T40 Karrie Webb 72
T40 Anna Nordqvist 72
T40 Austin Ernst 72
T40 Paula Creamer 72
T40 Carlota Ciganda 72
T40 Cydney Clanton 72 .
T40 Moriya Jutanugarn 72
T40 Christina Kim 72
T40 Hee Young Park 72
T40 Danielle Kang 72
T40 Jenny Shin 72
T40 Stacy Lewis 72
T40 Alison Lee 72
T40 Brittany Lincicome 72
T40 So Yeon Ryu 72
T40 Sun Young Yoo 72
T60 Jacqui Concolino 73
T60 Wei-Ling Hsu 73
T60 Bo-Mee Lee 73
T60 Jessica Korda 73
T60 Brooke M Henderson 73
T60 Sei-Young Kim 73
T60 Jin Young Ko 73
T60 Annie Park 73
T60 Albane Valenzuela 73
T60 M.J. Hur 73
T60 Jennifer Johnson 73
T60 Mo Martin 73
T60 Bronte Law (am) 73
T60 Beatriz Recari 73
T60 Mirim Lee 73
T60 Q Baek 73
T76 Thidapa Suwannapura 74
T76 Jaye Marie Green 74
T76 Chella Choi 74
T76 Jane Park 74
T76 Kelly Shon 74
T76 Ilhee Lee 74
T76 Brittany Lang 74
T76 Angela Stanford 74
T76 Melissa Reid 74
T76 P.K. Kongkraphan 74
T76 Julie Yang 74
T76 Min Seo Kwak 74
T88 Megan Khang 75
T88 Maria McBride 75
T88 Eun-Hee Ji 75
T88 Sakura Yokomine 75
T88 Leona Maguire (am)  75
T88 Cristie Kerr 75 .
T88 Yani Tseng 75
T88 Marina Alex 75
T96 Gaby Lopez 76
T96 Haru Nomura 76
T96 Karen Chung 76
T96 Min Lee 76 .
T96 Christel Boeljon 76
T96 Stephanie Meadow 76
T96 Julieta Granada 76
T96 Sierra Brooks 76
T96 Kim Kaufman 76
T96 Pornanong Phatlum 76 .
T96 Morgan Pressel 76
T96 Andrea Lee 76
T108 Gwladys Nocera 77
T108 Tiffany Joh 77
T108 Mariajo Uribe 77
T108   Sydnee Michaels 77