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Okinawa’s golf sweetheart is coming home for tournament

Date Posted: 2007-02-01

Ai Miyazato, who has made the transition from small town Okinawa girl to international golf sensation, is coming home next month.

The 21-year-old Higashi Village native will compete in the Daikin Orchid Ladies Tournament, where she scored her first professional golf title in 2004. Miyazato is now playing on the U.S. Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit.

Miyazato, playing as an amateur on the Japan LPGA Tour in 2003, won her first professional event , the Dunlop Ladies Open. Her 2004 rookie season on the Japanese LPGA Tour saw her win five tournaments, sending her off with fellow golfer Rui Kitada to South Africa in February 2005, where they won the Women’s World Cup of Golf.

Six 2005 events went into the Miyazato win column in Japan, where she was the second ranked JLPGA golfer, behind Yuri Fudoh.

In winning the Japan Open Championship at age twenty in 2005, Miyazato became the youngest player on the JLPGA Tour to win a major. The win inspired her to press ahead to the U.S. LPGA Qualifying School, which she dominated. It qualified her for a tour card, allowing her to play the 2006 LPGA season. Coming back to Japan last December, she played the opening rounds of the Okinawa Open, becoming the first Japanese woman to compete in a domestic men's professional event. While she didn’t make the cut for the final rounds, she brought spectators out in droves to witness the action.

Miyazato is kicking off her second U.S. LPGA season this month, playing the SBS Open in Hawaii, and then the Fields Open the following week. The Daikin Orchid Ladies Tournament takes place March 2-4 at Ryukyu Golf Club.

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