2013 First Round Results

Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
Pinnacle Country Club
First-Round Notes and Interviews
June 21, 2013

Japan native Mika Miyazato shot a bogey-free 6-under 65 to take the first-round lead at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. The 25-year-old returns to the Pinnacle Country Club as a Rolex First-Time Winner at last year’s Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, but her previous career-best finish had been a tie for second in Northwest Arkansas.

Miyazato was tied for the lead along with Spain’s Azahara Munoz on the final day at last year’s event, but fellow Japan native Ai Miyazato staved off a playoff when she sunk a birdie putt on the final hole to take the win.

Miyazato says her short-game and work around the greens was her key to scoring low today.

“I’m not long hitter, but I’m hitting pretty good the second shot,” said Miyazato. “So I can do that pretty close to the pin.

“But like yesterday, I working hard on short putt, like 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet because I change the putter like Bahamas week. So I use like mallet type and I use now ping type.  So real difference, so I need more confidence.  So I practice a lot so far yesterday.  So much confidence today.”

Miyazato finds herself in a good position to rally on her runner-up finish but Angela Stanford and So Yeon Ryu are within striking distance as they only sit one-stroke off Miyazato’s pace. Ryu and Stanford posted similar rounds on Friday with six birdies and one bogey on their scorecard. They both finished their rounds of 5-under 66 with a birdie on the par-5 18th hole.

Stanford says the Pinnacle Country Club was in perfect conditions for low scoring today.

“It seems like the fairways are firm and fast, which is usually good for me, but the greens are still kind of receptive and I thought the pin placements were pretty, what’s the word I’m looking for, accessible today,” said Stanford. “I imagine tomorrow they’re going to be tougher.”

A group of 10 currently sit in third-place at 4-under including Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis, No. 3 Suzann Pettersen and No. 21 Azahara Munoz. The University of Arkansas alum got off to a steady start, sitting at even-par before making the turn, but lit up the greens on the back-nine with birdies on 14, 16 and 18.

“You really have to stay patient on the golf course, that’s the key,” said Lewis. “You can shoot a 1‑ or 2‑under and still win the tournament.  So you’ve just got to stay patient, make a few more putts than I did today, but I’m moving in the right direction.”

A familiar place. Mika Miyazato was staring down a playoff and her first-career victory at last year’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship until fellow Japan native Ai Miyazato claimed the victory with a birdie putt on the final hole. Although disappointed from the runner-up finish, Mika says she comes to Arkansas this week as a different player than before and more than ready to tackle the Pinnacle Country Club again.

“A little bit I think,” said Mika of thinking about last year’s event before arriving in Arkansas. “But last year is last year, this year is this year.  Maybe different this year is my golf game.  So I more focus on that.”

The 25-year-old didn’t have to wait long for her first-career victory, as she claimed the 2012 Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola title just four tournaments later. Mika had a rough start to the 2013 season, but has placed in the top-25 in the last three events following a season-best tie for fourth at the Tour’s stop in the Bahamas. As she returns to Northwest Arkansas, Mika looks to rally on her success last year and come out with her second-career victory.

“I think second win is more difficult than the first win,” said Mika. “So I don’t know what is I need, but I know the experience I won the last year the Safeway Classic.  So I tried to more focus on my golf game, one stroke at a time.”

Woo, Pig Sooie! As expected, the 17th green was roaring as University of Arkansas alum Stacy Lewis made her way up the fairway. Lewis said The Calling of the Pigs was impressive and playing partner Angela Standford seemed puzzled by the crowds chant.

“They did a pretty good one today,” said Lewis of the University of Arkansa chant. “They were a little off, you know, the right and the left side were a little off, but I’m sure it will get better by the weekend.  I don’t know, I love it.  Angela was asking me ‘why do they do it three times’ and things like that.  It’s just such a cool week for me.”

Stanford, who referred to the chant as “that pig call,” says she’s eager to see the crowds on the 17th green during the weekend rounds.

“I think it’s probably going to get louder,” said Stanford. “I think it could get louder.  It wasn’t as loud as it’s going to be.”

A renewed mind. Reigning Rolex Rookie of the Year So Yeon Ryu admits she hasn’t quite had the season she was hoping for. After her first missed cut of the year at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, the 23-year-old said she needed to recharge the batteries and get her mind off golf for a while. With a week break before heading to Northwest Arkansas, the South Korean headed to New York for some site-seeing in the Big Apple.

“I think it’s really good refresh time for me,” said Ryu. “Sometimes people really need to rest.  Last week was really fantastic rest to me.  Also it’s a really, really great time.  So I just want to keep my mind really positive.”

Needless to say, the old Ryu was back in action at the Pinnacle Country Club, carding six birdies and one bogey to sit at a tie for second heading into Saturday’s second round. She said her vacation helped change her mind set for this week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, where she looks to notch her fifth top-10 finish of the year.

“Before I thought about so many things, what’s my position, I can make a birdie next hole, or why I didn’t hit well at the tee shot, kind of like that,” said Ryu. “But today I just really focused on each shot. That’s really, really good ones, and so I just want to keep focused on one shot and each hole.”

Quotable: “No, just whatever that pig call is.” – Angela Stanford said when asked if anything exciting happened on the 17th hole

Of Note… Cristie Kerr withdrew after eight holes… Defending champion Ai Miyazato opened the week with a two-over 73 and sits at a T97 heading into Saturday’s second round.

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