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Miyazato falls short; Japan misses World Cup chance

Date Posted: 2006-01-27

Ai Miyazato and Sakura Yokomine were supposed to lead Japan’s team to a second consecutive Women’s World Cup of Golf Championship in South Africa.

They failed.

Miyazato, Okinawa’s 20-year-old hometown girl, had captured the Cup for Japan last year, but found herself struggling throughout the event at Sun City, South Africa. Instead, Annika Sorenstam pulled it all together in a clutch situation Sunday, picking up an eagle on the par-5 14th hole, then led Sweden to a three stroke victory.

Sorenstam stroked a near perfect approach to within five feet of the hole, setting up an eagle. The excitement came only moments after she and teammate Liselotte Neuman had blown opportunities that cost them three strokes on the 11th, 12th and 13th holes. Sorenstam finished with a 70 and Neumann a 77 as Sweden took the three-round tournament with a seven-under-par 281. Scotland finished second.

Japan finished a distant 11th as Miyazato and Yokomine couldn’t shake off the gremlins on a final day they began tied for last in the tournament, eight strokes off the lead. They struggled throughout the tournament, recording more bogies and double bogeys than birdies. “We had some lucky breaks,” said Miyazato, “and we had some bad luck.” The Higashi Village native, who won the Woman’s World Cup last year with teammate Rui Kitada, said she “misjudged distances with approach shots, making it hard for us to produce a good score.”

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