Mika Miyazato makes amends in Japan Women's Open
BANDO, Japan – Mika Miyazato banished the bitter memories of her final-round meltdown last year as she swept to her maiden professional win Sunday in the 43rd Japan Women’s Open Championship.
Choosing the perfect week to deliver the best performance of her short pro career, the U.S. LPGA regular led wire-to-wire at the Ohtone Country Club’s East Course in Ibaraki prefecture.
LEADING FINAL-ROUND SCORES
276 - Mika Miyazato (JPN) 68-67-73-68
282 - Miki Saiki (JPN) 71-71-71-69
283 - Ahn Sun-ju (KOR) 73-72-71-67
284 - Chie Arimura (JPN) 70-70-75-69
285 - Choi Na-yeon (KOR) 72-69-74-70; Ayako Uehara (JPN) 68-73-71-73
287 - Sakura Yokomine (JPN) 73-71-71-72; Park Hee-young (KOR) 76-66-73-72
288 - Ai Miyazato (JPN) 72-70-72-74
289 - Ji Eun-hee (KOR) 74-70-73-72
290 - Hwang Ah-reum (KOR) 72-71-77-70; Lim Eun-a (KOR) 75-74-70-71
291 - Tomomi Hirose (JPN) 73-70-75-73; Shin Hyun-ju (KOR) 77-68-70-76
292 - Yuri Fudoh (JPN) 70-74-77-71; Yani Tseng (TPE) 71-76-74-71
294 - Kim Song-hee (KOR) 72-77-73-72; Shinobu Moromizato (JPN) 73-74-74-73
Four shots clear of the field at the start of the final round, Miyazato closed with a 4-under 68 in the third “major” of the Japan LPGA Tour season. Her four-day total of 12-under 276 gave her a six-shot triumph over Miki Saiki, with Ahn Sun-ju of South Korea a further shot back in sole possession of third.
Victory was particularly sweet for the 2006 world junior champion as she blew a winning position in the Women’s Open 12 months ago with a final-round 78.
Miyazato, who turns 21 next week and is the second youngest winner of the Open, said: “It was very disappointing last year. This time, I wanted to show the gallery how much I’ve grown as a golfer. I’m glad I was able to improve my score today.
“I wasn’t nervous at the start of the round. It’s an unbelievable feeling to win this major tournament in Japan. I hope I’ll get a win in the U.S., too.’’
It was a near-flawless display from Miyazato, who could have been forgiven for entering the final round with butterflies in her stomach after an error-strewn finish to her third round when she dropped four shots over the closing five holes.
But she successfully handled her nerves with seven pars and two birdies on the front nine, reaching the turn at 2-under 34. A hat-trick of birdies from the 13th effectively put the match away. Her only bogey Sunday came at the par-5 18th.
World No. 1 Ai Miyazato, unrelated to Mika, had to settle for ninth place at 288 after signing off with a 2-over 74.
Playing ahead of Mika in the penultimate group, Ai Miyazato, winner of the championship in 2005 and third last year, needed a fast start to make inroads into her six-shot overnight deficit. A double-bogey-6 at the opening hole ending her hopes of mounting a meaningful challenge.
Yani Tseng of Taiwan, world No. 4 and two-time major winner on the LPGA Tour this year, carded a 71 to finish T-15 at 292.