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 in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday, where rain once again stopped play early and brought up the prospect of a grueling, 36-hole Sunday.
She had a 1-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 Mika, it goes beyond mere symbols, though. She is donating all her winnings from the 2011 majors to the Red Cross for the recovery cause in her home country. That has already totaled more than $100,000 thanks to top-10 finishes at the first two majors. First place at the U.S. Open is worth around $600,000.
"Winning majors is what I strive for," she said. "And to donate all of my earnings from the majors, I hope to give positive things to the people who are around the disaster area."
What a way to make a name for herself -- even though Mika has spent most of her young career being confused with Ai Miyazato. Ai has six LPGA Tour victories to none for Mika and she has spent a longer time on the radar as the best hope to become the next golf superstar in a country that loves the game.
Not that Mika has complained much when people get them mixed up.
"Everybody thinks we're sisters," she said. "That way, everybody can remember me, because Ai is playing great."
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 2 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 Sunday 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 7:45 a.m. and if there are no interruptions, tournament director Ben Kimbal said the last putt will drop at 6:07 p.m.
"Oh, the USGA makes it really tough for all of us," said Kim, who has been passing the considerable down time playing games she loaded onto her new iPad. "It's already tough out there. But weather, I mean, you can't really control it. You've really got to play with what we get."
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.
"I felt awful last night," said Lewis, who won the year's first major, the Nabisco. "I didn't feel much better when I woke up. It was just really tiring to me. I've played 36 holes before, but not on a golf course like this."
Defending champion Paula Creamer was in a six-way tie at even.
John Deere Classic:
Steve Stricker stood in the bunker left of the first fairway, eyed his ball in the rough on the edge of the trap, then looked at the flag 122 yards away.
If it felt like he'd been in that position before, well, that's because he had.
"I had that same stance in my pro-am," he said. "Same bunker, same exact shot. I was right in the same spot."
All he wanted to do was get the ball on the green, which he did. And then came the shot of the day, a 75-foot putt for birdie that led to an 8-under-par 63 Saturday and a 2-stroke lead after three rounds of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
"I was just trying to get a 2-putt and par and move on," Stricker said. "To make a put like that, you don't expect to, nor are the odds in your favor to make a putt like that. But it went in with perfect speed and it got me going."
Stricker fashioned his best round of the year while closing in on his third straight victory in the tournament. He's at 20-under 193 following a par on save on 18, where he twice hit into bunkers before drilling a 15-foot putt.
That put Stricker in a good spot because he's won the last four times he held the outright lead going into the final round. Stricker said he often hears stats like that, but insisted he doesn't remember them.
"I don't put a lot of stock in numbers past, present, whatever," he said. "I just try to go out there and do the things that I'm capable of doing. You've just got to stick to your own game and that's what I've been able to do the last four or five years."
Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge is alone in second at 195 after matching Stricker's 63. Second-round leader Chez Reavie, who started the day 2 strokes up on Stricker, shot 68 and was 17 under, 1 ahead of Kyle Stanley (65).
First Tee Open:
Jay Haas had 7 birdies to take the second-round lead at the First Tee Open, but it was a save on the par-3 12th in Pebble Beach, Calif., that made the difference. Haas pushed his tee shot 10 feet to the right of the green then left his approach 18 feet shy of the cup. Ready to settle for a bogey which would have dropped him back into the pack, Haas instead made the putt for par --and then kept rolling.
A 14-time winner on the Champions Tour but winless since 2009, Haas finished with a 7-under 65 and took a 2-stroke lead over three other players.
The Scottish Open was reduced to a three-round event after torrential rain overnight and throughout Saturday flooded the Castle Stuart links course at Inverness, wiping out the entire third day's play in Inverness.
Organizers worked to restore Castle Stuart to a playable condition following heavy downpours in the Highlands and the unfinished second-round groupings which amounted to half the field took their positions out on the course late Saturday.
As players were about to restart their rounds more than 24 hours after their last shot, officials decided conditions were still too poor to resume.
With no shot being hit on Day 3, the leaderboard was unchanged, leaving 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell in a three-way share of the lead at 11 under with Scottish pair Peter Whiteford and Scott Jamieson.