Hjorth Takes Mizuno Lead


Maria Hjorth tied her career low with an 8-under 64 Saturday and took a two-stroke lead after two rounds of the $800,000 Mizuno Classic, a U.S. LPGA event held in Japan.

Hjorth, who has been fighting since Monday with an airline that lost her golf clubs, had three birdies on the front side and five on the back for her third 64 of the season and a 10-under 134 total at the 6,423-yard Seta Golf Club course.

The native of Sweden previously went 8 under at the Safeco Classic and at the Aflac Champions, tournaments which she won and finished second in, respectively.

Japan LPGA standouts Aki Nakano and Fumiko Muraguchi both had a 66 Saturday and were at 136. First-round leader Cindy McCurdy shot a 72 and was at 137 along with Sherri Steinhauer, who had a 66, and Rachel Hetherington, who had a 70.

Hetherington, like Steinhauer a two-time winner on tour this year, chipped in for an eagle 3 on the 18th hole.

Four players were at 138, including Lorie Kane (67), Jenny Lidback (67), Helen Dobson (66) and South Korean Ko Woo-soon (71).

Defending champion Hiromi Kobayashi of Japan, a regular on the U.S. LPGA Tour, shot a 67 and was at 5-under 139.

Hjorth's problems began Monday when her luggage was sent to Las Vegas, instead of her connection in Los Angeles.

When she arrived in Japan, neither her suitcase nor her golf bag had made it. She received her clothes Tuesday night and her golf bag was due to arrive Wednesday but the airline lost them again.

Hjorth, who stands 14th on the money list, played the first round Friday with a set of borrowed clubs from the host club. When her clubs finally arrived Friday night, she decided to stick with her loaned irons, driver and putter.

"We already knew the yardage pretty well with those irons," she said. "So we decided, `Why switch?' I just put my own fairway woods and wedges in the bag and it seemed to work out just fine."

Her 64 also tied the course record, set in 1989 by Elaine Crosby, and the tournament record, shared by Crosby, Pat Bradley in 1983, Jane Blalock in 1985 and Debbie Massey in 1990.

"I've been playing well this week, and I hope to continue tomorow and make a lot of birdies," she said. "I'm looking forward to my second win, whenever it comes.

"Following up a 64 with another 64 is very hard. I'll just try to keep playing well and give myself birdie chances. I think 3 or 4 under would be a good score for me tomorrow."

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