COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -
For months now, the battered country of Japan has been looking for a lift.
By using her blossoming golf game as a tool for charity, 21-year-old Mika Miyazato could turn the U.S. Women's Open into the feel-good story her country seeks — and back it with some cold, hard cash.
Miyazato shot 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 match today.
She had a one-shot lead over Ai Miyazato — who is not related but is from the same city, 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 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 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.
The only other players to reach the halfway point under par were Stacy Lewis and Ryann O'Toole, both at 1 under.
Lewis led for much of the second round before making bogey and double-bogey in the hour after play resumed following a rain delay Friday evening. She played the last two holes of the second round Saturday morning and finished with a 73.
Defending champion Paula Creamer was in a six-way tie at even.
Four-time major winner Yani Tseng was 4 over, nine shots out of the lead.