POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 10, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 10:29 p.m. HST, Aug 05, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. » For months now, the battered country of Japan has been looking for a lift.
Miyazato shot a 67 to grab the lead at 5-under-par 137 at the halfway point at the Broadmoor on Saturday, where rain once again stopped play early and brought up the prospect of a grueling 36-hole Sunday.
She had a one-shot lead over Ai Miyazato — who is not related but is from the same island, Okinawa. When the Miyazatos return to the course, they will play in the final group together, each wearing red and white pins they created to raise awareness for the thousands of victims in a country ravaged by an earthquake, tsunami and the resulting nuclear catastrophe.
The pins have Japanese characters that translate to "Never Give Up Japan."
For Mika, it goes beyond mere symbols, though. She is donating all her winnings from the 2011 majors to the Red Cross for the recovery cause in her home country. That has already totaled more than $100,000 thanks to top-10 finishes at the first two majors. First place at the U.S. Open is worth around $600,000.
"Winning majors is what I strive for," she said. "And to donate all of my earnings from the majors, I hope to give positive things to the people who are around the disaster area."
What a way to make a name for herself — even though Mika has spent most of her young career being confused with Ai Miyazato. Ai has six LPGA Tour victories to none for Mika and she has spent a longer time on the radar as the best hope to become the next golf superstar in a country that loves the game.
Not that Mika has complained much when people get them mixed up.
"Everybody thinks we're sisters," she said. "That way, everybody can remember me, because Ai is playing great."
For the final 36 holes, the Miyazatos will also be grouped with South Korea's I.K. Kim, who returned early Saturday with the lead, played the last four holes of her second round, then finished the day two shots behind — in third place at 3 under.
In an attempt to bring a Sunday conclusion to a tournament that has fallen behind after three straight afternoons of rain, the USGA will send threesomes off from the No. 1 and 10 tees today and will not re-pair the groups after the third round. It brings up the prospect, however slight, of having a victory celebration on the ninth green.
Almost certain, though, is that the final 36 holes will be as much a test of endurance as shot-making. Play is set to resume at 6:45 a.m. local time and if there are no interruptions, tournament director Ben Kimbal said the last putt will drop at 7:07 p.m.
"Oh, the USGA makes it really tough for all of us," said Kim. "It's already tough out there. But weather, I mean, you can't really control it. You've really got to play with what we get."
Punahou product Michelle Wie birdied her last hole to finish the second round with a 71, making the cut by one shot at 7 over par.
Fellow Punahou graduate Stephanie Kono was on pace to make the cut but bogeyed her final three holes to miss it by three strokes after a 74 in the second round.
Maryknoll student Mariel Galdiano matched her first-round 85 with another in the second round and finished the tournament in last place at 28 over par.