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Miyazato finishes third after Kia final flourish

Kyodo

Ai Miyazato fired a sizzling final round of 6-under-par 66 to finish third at the Kia Classic on Sunday.

The former world No. 1 started the day in 15th place but reeled off seven birdies against a lone bogey at the Aviara Golf Club to secure her first top-five finish in three years with a total of 12-under 276.

Miyazato, joint leader after the first round, finished seven shots behind New Zealand’s world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who captured her first title of the season and 11th of her career.

Ko carded a third straight 67 and closed out four shots ahead of South Korea’s Park In-bee.

Miyazato had her best finish in an LPGA event since a runnerup finish at the 2013 JTBC Founders Cup. Her last top 10 also came that year, at the 2013 Lotte Championship.

“I haven’t finished top 10 since, I don’t know, maybe a couple years ago, and finally I did it,” Miyazato told LPGA.com. “So I’m really satisfied with what I did, and definitely gained confidence.

“I’ve been struggling with my putting since a couple years ago, and that’s why my game wasn’t really there. But I had really good patience and I knew I could get through it.

“Right now, I’m in the process, but the difference is I’m having fun more with my game. So I think that was it. I need this feeling until the end of November.”

Also for Japan, Harukyo Nomura had a 73 and finished in 16th place, while Sakura Yokomine had a 72 and closed in 60th.

Day reaps reward

AP

Everyone around him was telling Jason Day to withdraw from the Dell Match Play and not risk further injury to his back.

Day knew he was playing well enough to win and wanted to stick it out.

The decision paid off in more ways than he could imagine.

Day returned to No. 1 in the world by making it to Sunday. It felt even sweeter when he beat Rory McIlroy in an epic semifinal, and then beat Louis Oosthuizen in a championship match so one-sided that it might as well have been a victory lap around Austin Country Club.

“I’m glad I didn’t listen,” Day said. “I wanted to win. I wanted to win so bad that I felt with how I was playing, if I kept playing the way I was going, I would be holding the trophy at the end of the week. And that’s what kept me going.”