Hjorth surges ahead

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The Independent Online

Maria Hjorth tied her career low round of 8-under-par 64 on Saturday to surge ahead for a two-stroke lead going into the final round of the $800,000 Mizuno Classic, a US LPGA event held in Otsu, Japan.

Maria Hjorth tied her career low round of 8-under-par 64 on Saturday to surge ahead for a two-stroke lead going into the final round of the $800,000 Mizuno Classic, a US LPGA event held in Otsu, Japan.

The Swede, who has been fighting since Monday with an airline that lost her golf clubs, sank three birdies on the front nine and five more on the back side for her third 64 of the season.

She previously carded an 8-under at the Safeco Classic and at the Aflac Champions, at which she won and finished second respectively.

Hjorth's problems began on 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 on Tuesday night and her golf bag was due to arrive Wednesday - but the airline lost them again.

Hjorth played the first round on Friday with a set of borrowed clubs from Seta Golf Club. When her clubs finally arrived on 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 tomorrow 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 three or four-under would be a good score for me tomorrow," said Hjorth, currently ranked 14th on the money list.

Chasing Hjorth were Japan LPGA standouts Aki Nakano and Fumiko Muraguchi at 8-under 136. Both players shot 66s in the second round.

First-round leader Cindy McCurdy carded a 72 for 7-under 137 and was joined by Sherri Steinhauer and Rachel Hetherington, both of them two-time tournament winners this season.

Hetherington chipped in for an eagle-three on the final hole en route to a 70.

Four players stood at 6-under 138, including Lorie Kane, Jennyt Lidback, Helen Dobson and South Korean Ko Woo-soon.

Defending champion Hiromi Kobayashi of Japan, a regular on the US LPGA Tour, shot a 67 for a share of 11th at 5-under 139.

Scores after the second round of the the 6,423-yard par-72 Seta Golf Club North Course:

Maria Hjorth 70-64-134 Aki Nakano 70-66-136 Fumiko Muraguchi 70-66-136 Sherri Steinhauer 71-66-137 Rachel Hetherington 67-70-137 Cindy McCurdy 65-72-137 Helen Dobson 72-66-138 Jenny Lidback 71-67-138 Lorie Kane 71-67-138 Ko Woo-soon 67-71-138 Hiromi Kobayashi 72-67-139 Michele Redman 71-68-139 Jan Stephenson 70-69-139 Charlotta Sorenstam 69-70-139 Michie Ohba 69-70-139 Ku Ok-hee 69-70-139 Carin Koch 68-71-139 Hisako Takeda 72-68-140 Yuka Irie 72-68-140 Wendy Doolan 71-69-140 Gail Graham 70-70-140 Laura Davies 70-70-140 Rosie Jones 69-71-140 Toshimi Kimura 69-71-140 Denise Killeen 69-71-140 Mayumi Hirase 68-72-140 Cindy Flom 74-67-141 Liselotte Neumann 70-71-141 Tina Barrett 70-71-141 Catriona Matthew 70-71-141 Sherri Turner 69-72-141 Aki Takamura 73-69-142 Kim Saiki 72-70-142 Pearl Sinn 71-71-142 Eva Dahllof 71-71-142 Jill McGill 70-72-142 Cindy Figg-Currier 74-69-143 Kyoko Ono 72-71-143 Akiko Fukushima 72-71-143 Yuri Fudoh 71-72-143 Keiko Arai 71-72-143 Midori Yoneyama 70-73-143 Akane Ohshiro 75-69-144 Fuki Kido 75-69-144 Miyuki Shimabukuro 74-70-144 Ayako Okamoto 73-71-144 Hiromi Takamura 72-72-144 Mi Hyun Kim 72-72-144 Lee Young-me 71-73-144 Kasumi Fujii 71-73-144 Shin Sora 70-74-144 Susan Ginter 69-75-144 Jean Bartholomew 69-75-144 Yoko Inoue 73-72-145 A.J. Eathorne 73-72-145 Kim Man-soo 72-73-145 Tseng Hsiu-feng 71-74-145 Susie Redman 70-75-145 Leigh Ann Mills 69-76-145 Won Jae-sook 76-70-146 Suzanne Strudwick 76-70-146 Nahoko Hirao 76-70-146 Hollis Stacy 74-72-146 Harumi Sakagami 77-70-147 Yuko Moriguchi 75-72-147 Becky Iverson 75-72-147 Maggie Will 72-75-147 Nancy Scranton 77-71-148 Mardi Lunn 77-71-148 Chieko Nishida 74-74-148 Han Hee-won 74-74-148 Junko Yasui 73-75-148 Moira Dunn 70-78-148

FAILED TO QUALIFY= Dale Eggeling 78-71-149 Mayumi Murai 74-75-149 Huang Yu-Chen 76-74-150 Michelle Estill 74-76-150 Takayo Bandoh 74-76-150 Megumi Matsuo 74-76-150 Yuri Kawanami 78-76-154

DID NOT STARTIkuyo Shiotani Michiko Hattori

WITHDREWLisa Kiggens