Miyazato Takes Lead at ADT Championship

Friday, November 17th 2006, 6:24 am

By: News On 6

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Ai Miyazato struggled finding the right words to describe the windy conditions, turning to her translator for assistance. Playing in strong breezes was apparently much easier than talking about them.

Miyazato shot a 4-under 68 Thursday, taking a one-shot lead after one humid, windy round of the LPGA Tour's season-ending ADT Championship. She had six birdies, with the lone blemish on her card being a double-bogey on the par-4 10th _ the toughest hole at Trump International during the opening round.

``It was a great round ... because I kept my concentration today,'' said Miyazato, the Japanese standout who has six top-10 finishes but no wins this year. ``I had fun playing in the strong wind. That was fun.''

Two-time ADT winner Karrie Webb made birdie on the final hole to shoot 69 to get into a two-way tie for second with Il Mi Chung.

Natalie Gulbis, Julieta Granada and Mi Hyun Kim were 2-under, while Paula Creamer, Se Ri Pak, Wendy Ward and Morgan Pressel were another shot off the pace after a day where southwest winds _ gusts were measured at 28 mph in the area Thursday afternoon _ befuddled players at times.

``The course definitely played a lot differently to what it normally does,'' Webb said. ``But I managed to play the tough holes very well, hit some really good iron shots on the back nine and to finish with a birdie, I was very happy with that.''

Meanwhile, two-time defending ADT champion Annika Sorenstam and newly crowned player of the year Lorena Ochoa both struggled.

Sorenstam was 4-over after 10 holes before rallying to finish 2-over, six shots off Miyazato's lead. And Ochoa was 3-over in her opening round, with four bogeys and only one birdie.

``It just wasn't a good day,'' Sorenstam said. ``I got off to a bad start. I had to fight pretty hard today.''

She and Ochoa now have some work to do in the second round.

Friday will be an interesting day, with the 32-woman field getting cut to 16 Friday, then trimmed again to eight on Saturday. Those players return Sunday, their scores from the first three days erased, to play for a $1 million winners' share of the $1.55 million total purse.

``This is so different,'' Sorenstam said. ``I'm not really sure how to approach it.''

And with all but five players in the field within eight shots of the lead, there will likely be more scoreboard-watching Friday than is typically found in a second round.

``You're not only trying to get into the top 16, you're trying to give yourself a shot at comfortably being in the top eight,'' Webb said. ``You've just got to play, as far as I'm concerned. You're not going to play safe when you should play aggressive or vice versa just because of the format.''

Unlike some players, Pressel _ the 18-year-old tour rookie from nearby Boca Raton _ acknowledged that the tournament's unique format and huge payday is weighing on her mind.

Still, she apparently found ways to handle the distractions.

``I think she blocked it all out pretty well,'' said Herb Krickstein, Pressel's grandfather and manager. ``She hit the ball extremely well, which if she had been nervous, she wouldn't do.''

After making a tricky par-saver on No. 1, she stuck her uphill approach to 2 feet on No. 2, setting up the first of her five birdies. Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 pushed her into a share of the lead at the time at 3-under, but Pressel immediately followed with consecutive bogeys. Her up-and-down round continued from there, finally capped by a downhill birdie at No. 18.

``For some reason, out on the course today my speed wasn't even, like, close,'' Pressel said. ``It wasn't there. But I hit the ball well, so that was a plus.''

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