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Japan struggles at Women’s World Cup

Kyodo

Japan’s hopes of winning a second straight title at the Women’s World Cup of Golf faded Saturday after Ai Miyazato and Sakura Yokomine fell 13 shots off the lead after shooting a 2-over-par 74 in the alternate-shot foursomes.

Miyazato and Yokomine, who began the day tied for last in the 20-team field at eight strokes off coleaders Sweden and South Korea, failed to make up momentum in a round that featured four birdies, two bogeys, and two double bogeys and moved to a 3-over 147 for a tie at 14th place with one day left in the tournament at Gary Player Country Club.

World No. 1 Annika Sorenstam and veteran Liselotte Neumann rebounded from a sluggish start to the day’s round to fire a 69, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 ninth, for a three-shot lead over South Korean pair Song Bo Bae and Meena Lee.

Japan started strongly with a birdie on the par-5 second, but quickly lost ground with a double-bogey 6 on the next, where Miyazato and Yokomine went from rough to rough, and a bogey on the par-3 seventh after Miyazato failed to hit the green with her tee shot.

Miyazato was erratic off the tee again at No. 11 as she hit into a fairway bunker and the 20-year-old pair needed five shots to reach the green for another double-bogey 6.

“We had some lucky breaks and some bad luck,” said Miyazato, who won the inaugural Woman’s World Cup last year with Rui Kitada.

“I misjudged distances with approach shots and was unable to hit the fairway with my drives several times, making it hard for us to produce a good score,” Miyazato said, giving a mark of 60 out of 100 to her performance.

Yokomine said she will try as hard as she can in the final-day singles Sunday for the best possible finish.