TAMAGASUKU, Okinawa Pref. – Eighteen-year-old Ai Miyazato became the youngest ever professional to win on the Japanese LPGA tour on Sunday when she carded a 2-under-par 70 to capture her first title as a pro golfer at the season-opening Daikin Orchid Ladies.
Playing in only her fourth tournament since turning pro last October, overnight leader Miyazato made four birdies against two bogeys to win the 60 million yen event at Ryuku Golf Club in her native Okinawa.
“This is just the best feeling. Practice in the off-season didn’t go quite as well as I wanted it too and I was just hoping to make the final two rounds ahead of this tournament,” said Miyazato.
“I had some luck on my side but I also think that my brother (men’s pro Yusaku) has to take half the credit for my victory for being my caddy today,” she added.
Miyazato rolled down birdie putts on her final two holes as she finished three strokes clear of veteran Kaori Higo with a 54-hole total of 10-under 206 to collect the winner’s prize of 10.8 million yen. Mikiyo Nishizuka and Toshimi Kimura shared third on 211.
Victory was Miyazato’s second overall on the JLPGA tour. Last September she became the first amateur player in 30 years to win on the pro circuit at the Miyagi TV Cup.
The 2002 Asian Games gold medalist made her pro debut at the Itoen Ladies last November but failed to make the cut.
Elsewhere, amateur Shinobu Moromizato finished tied for fifth while defending champion Yuri Fudo, the top golfer on the women’s tour for the past four seasons, struggled with a 2-over 74 and closed in a share of 23rd.
O’Meara ends drought
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Mark O’Meara won his first official tournament in almost six years on Sunday, shooting a 3-under-par 69 to win the Dubai Desert Classic by one stroke over Paul McGinley.
The 47-year-old O’Meara won his last official event in taking the 1998 British Open, which came just months after he won the Masters.
The American’s playing partner McGinley, who began level with the Floridian after three rounds, carded a 70 for a composite 16-under 272.
Tiger Woods, six strokes back when the round began, made a mini-charge but finished five behind after a 68 on a hot, breezy day at the Emirates Golf Club.
O’Meara collected $333,330 for victory — about 1/10 of what Woods was paid in appearance money. O’Meara has long been a friend and mentor to Woods, his Florida neighbor.
Parry out in front
MIAMI (AP) Craig Parry hasn’t quite adjusted to the time change from Australia. He has figured out Doral’s Blue Monster.
Parry shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday at the Ford Championship, moving to 13-under 203 and taking a one-shot lead over Gene Sauers (64) and Scott Verplank (65).
Marsh up by one
HUIXQUILUCAN, Mexico (AP) Australia’s Graham Marsh shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead over South Africa’s Hugh Baiocchi after the second round of the MasterCard Classic.
The 60-year-old Marsh had an 8-under 136 total.
Jay Sigel (69) was two strokes back, and Tom Kite (68) and Jim Ahern (70) were four shots behind at 4-under.
Rain stops play
SYDNEY (AP) England’s Laura Davies had a two-shot lead Sunday when darkness suspended play in the rain-delayed fourth round of the Australian Women’s Open golf tournament at Concord.
The tournament is scheduled to conclude Monday.
Davies, who led Rachel Teske of Australia by two shots going into Sunday’s round, maintained that lead and was 2-under on the tournament — and 1-over on the day — through four holes. Teske, playing in the same group, was on even par.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.