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Miyazato birdies her way to winner’s circle in LPGA

Date Posted: 2005-08-27

Ai Miyazato has her third golf trophy of the season.

The 19-year-old Okinawan captured the New Caterpillar Mitsubishi LPGA Tournament in mainland Japan, riding a string of five birdies and closing with a nine-foot birdie to nail the victory.

She slipped past Hiromi Mogi and South Korea’s Jeon Mi Jeong to pick up her third win of the LPGA season. Miyazato had held a slim lead, but lost in Saturday, then bounced back with a bogey-free five-under-par round on the 6,048 yard, par 73 course in Kanagawa Prefecture. She finished with a 10 under par 209.

She took home Y10,800,000 for the weekend’s work on the mainland, boosting her earnings for the year to Y59,390,000. It now makes her Japan’s top prize money winner. “I played very well,” she said, “I concentrated on the Japan Tour.”

What pleases the Higashi Village teen even more is that dozens of Okinawa junior golfers are clamoring to learn the game. A total of 209 junior golfers joined in at the Okinawa Junior Golf Tournament at Nassam Golf Club earlier this week.

The youngest was an 11-year-old girl, and another 17-year-old did well in the first round. This is the 15th tournament staged at the course as they strive to make it an Ai-Chan Golf Course. While golf tends to be a bit spendy, the course owners are making it easy for junior golfers to get involved, as each wants to see a future star born on their tees and greens.

Girls 15 and under can play for free at the course, a boon for parents on tight budgets. Course owners point to Tiger Wood, who most people know got his start with some help from his parents.

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