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Ai Miyazato wins 8th LPGA title

Date Posted: 2012-04-27

Okinawa’s Ai Miyazato has won the LPGA LOTTE Championship, chalking up her eighth career LPGA Tour title, birdieing three of the last six holes for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory in Kapolei, Hawaii.

The trophy was a doubly sweet victory for Miyazato, who won after finishing second behind top-ranked Yani Tseng this year in Thailand and Phoenix. It was the Higashi Village native’s fifth top-10 finish in six events, and her first victory in Hawaii in nine tries. It was also enough to propel her upward three notches in the rankings, up to 5th in the Rolex LPGA standings.

It was, she said, also good to beat Tseng."It was very nice," Miyazato said, then laughed. "Honestly, she is so good. But, no, Yani has been playing really solid. It's so inspiring that she's playing so well. That's why I'm here. We're kind of inspiring each other." Miyazato finished at 12-under 276 after opening with rounds of 71, 65 and 70 to take a three-stroke lead in the final round.

The 26-year-old Miyazato had some new moves at the LPGA Lotte, after winding up in a tie for 56th place in her last outing. She turned to her father, who’s also her part-time putting coach and swing coach, and asked for help. He recommended some changes in both stance and grip, which she practiced leading up to last weekend’s tournament. “He gave me a couple tips, so I worked really hard with the two tips last couple weeks, and now it's, you know, perfect rolling,” she explained before heading into the final round.

Miyazato claimed her eighth-career LPGA victory by four shots over Azahara Munoz and Meena Lee at the inaugural LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf. Miyazato, was the No. 8 ranked player on the Rolex Rankings heading into the tournament. Throughout the afternoon, the trio of Miyazato, Munoz and Lee were tied atop the scoreboard at various points, but the Japanese star broke away from the pack with birdies at three of her last five holes – Nos. 13, 15 and 17.

The win nets Miyazato $255,000 of the $1.7 million purse and increases her season earnings to $629,783 – second only to the Yani Tseng.

Miyazato's victory comes after two runner-up finishes to world number one Yani Tseng of Taiwan this season, in Thailand and Phoenix. It was the first win for Miyazato since the 2011 Evian Masters. On Saturday, she birdied 15 and 17 and rolled in an eight foot putt on No. 16 to save par."I just keep saying to myself just to be patient and not rush," Miyazato said. "I've been playing so well this year."

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