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Okinawa gal scores big in South Africa tournament

Date Posted: 2005-02-18

Ai Miyazato captured the public’s fancy this week at the Women’s Golf Tournament in South Africa’s Fun Court Hotel golf course.

The 19-year-old teamed with Rui Kitada, 23, to sweep the first prize trophy and also become number one in world championship play.

Ai finshed with a 67, while Rui had an 82. Players from Scotland were pressing close, but on the final competition day Ai Miyazato firmly locked down the lad with a three under par 289. That makes her the reigning queen on the ladies links.

Kitada was struggling the final day, racking up triple bogeys. Korea was chasing Japan as well, but Ai and Rui made their putters sing, picking up a number of birdie putts to stay ahead.

Ai’s victory makes her the first teen player in Japan to win ¥100,000,000. She’s listed as second best in the world now.

On the mens side, Shigeki Maruyama and Toshimitsu Izawa won the championship. It was their first time in national pairs team competition, which features two person teams playing three rounds in a foursome using four balls in stroke play.

In Ai Miyazato’s hometown, Higashi Village, excitement is at fever pitch now as they await her return. “Wow! Ai-chan, our star, our dream. She’s a marvelous player with excellent power,” said her father Yuu, 58. “It’s more than what we thought. I’m so surprised. I didn’t expect her to become a champion so fast.”

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