KARUIZAWA, Japan – Lee Ji-hee upstaged World No. 3 Ai Miyazato on Sunday with a flawless display to claim victory in the 70 million yen (about US$770,000) NEC Karuizawa 72 golf tournament.
Lee of South Korea blazed her way to a closing, bogey-free 5-under 67 over the 6,628-yard Karuizawa 72 North Course in Nagano Prefecture.
203 – Lee Ji-hee (KOR) 67-69-67
205 – Akiko Fukushima (JPN) 68-70-67; Nikki Campbell (AUS) 65-70-70
208 – Ai Miyazato (JPN) 65-70-73
209 – Yoshimi Koda (JPN) 71-70-68
210 – Yuko Mitsuka (JPN) 68-71-71; Chie Arimura (JPN) 70-67-73
211 – Sakura Yokomine (JPN) 69-73-69; Miho Koga (JPN) 71-70-70; Miki Saiki (JPN) 69-68-74
212 – Mie Nakata (JPN) 71-72-69; Saiki Fujita (JPN) 71-68-73; Lu Ya-huei (TPE) 68-71-73; Jeon Mi-jeong (KOR) 67-70-75
213 – Ritsuko Ryu (JPN) 70-74-69; Bae Jae-hee (KOR) 71-72-70; Julie Lu (TPE) 73-67-73
That gave her a 54-hole total of 13-under 203 and a two-shot triumph over Japan’s Akiko Fukushima and Australia’s Nikki Campbell.
Lee, who became only the sixth player since 1990 to complete a Japan LPGA Tour event without a bogey, said she felt refreshed after spending the tour’s monthlong midseason break at home.
“I think it helped that I rested well in South Korea during the tour’s timeout,’’ said Lee, 31, after clinching her first win of the season and 13th of her tour career. “My target for the season was to win one title. Now, I will try and go for a second.’’
Miyazato, a four-time winner on the LPGA this season who was seeking her first win on home soil in 2010, never got going on the last day. She parred her first nine holes and finished with a bogey on 18 for a 1-over 73 that left her to settle for fourth place at 208.
Before heading back to the United States for this week’s Safeway Classic, Miyazato, who shared the second-round lead with Campbell, said: “I was able to play at my own pace and think I will be able to return to the LPGA Tour in good shape.’’
Fukushima and Campbell made late bogeys, enabling Lee to take a two-stroke lead into the final hole. Fukushima trailed by one when she dropped a shot at the short 17th. Campbell’s victory hopes effectively ended when she incurred her only bogey of the day at the par-5 16th to fall two behind.
Defending champion Chie Arimura also closed with a 73 to drop to joint sixth at 210.
Lee took home 12 million yen (about US$146,100) for the win.