Munoz and Miyazato burst into Major form

RANCHO MIRAGE (California) • Azahara Munoz burst out of a form slump at an opportune time and Ai Miyazato's renaissance continued at golf's ANA Inspiration on Thursday as the pair shared the opening-round lead in the first women's Major of the year.

Spain's Munoz and Japan's Miyazato each carded rounds of five-under 67 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, to share top spot, one clear of Scotland's Catriona Matthew, South African Lee-Anne Pace and another Japanese, Shiho Oyama.

Munoz, who has failed to finish higher than 33rd this season and has not recorded a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) top 10 since August last year, carded six birdies but dropped back with a bogey on her final hole.

"Obviously one round is not going to completely change my confidence but I am feeling good," Munoz said.

"I have actually been playing really well and my scores haven't shown it at all. I think it was just a matter of time until things started happening and it did today. Hopefully it stays like that."

Miyazato, world No. 1 back in 2010, sat 157th in the rankings before finishing third last week at the Kia Classic.

The 30-year-old opened with four birdies in her opening six holes and then added another to her tally on the 18th to prove her improvement in form was not a false dawn.

"I was really happy to play my game again. I was kind of struggling the last few years but I got through," she said.

"I am still in the process but I know I am moving forward and I feel good."

Ryann O'Toole, Gerina Piller and 2014 champion Lexi Thompson shared top American honours with 69s to be tied for sixth, while world No. 1 Lydia Ko rode a roller-coaster with four birdies and two bogeys in a round of 70.

"I was striking my irons and everything pretty good but I didn't hit my driver very well, especially on the back nine, so I think that's where my bogeys kind of came from," the New Zealander admitted after taking a share of 14th.

"I gave myself quite a few looks up the hill for birdie but I just wasn't able to commit to my speed and I left quite a few out there that were on line but short. That's the last thing you want to be doing.

"But a two-under start to the first Major of the year, I am pretty pleased with that."

Defending champion Brittany Lincicome settled for an even-par 72.

REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Munoz and Miyazato burst into Major form'. Print Edition | Subscribe