• Kyodo


Ai Miyazato marked her return to the Japanese Tour with a 3-under-par 69 to take a share of the first-round lead with Kasumi Fujii at the Japan Women’s Open on Thursday.

News photoAi Miyazato swings away on the first day of the Japan Women’s Open on Thursday at Totsuka
Country Club in Yokohama.

The 20-year-old star, who has been taking time out to focus on qualifying for the U.S. LPGA Tour, made a bad start in her bid to become the youngest Japan Women’s Open winner after making bogeys on her first two holes at Totsuka Country Club in Yokohama.

But she recovered nicely to make the turn at 36 with birdies on No. 4 and 6 and added two more on the 13th and 14th before moving into a share of first place with a 24-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

“The difficult long putts went down for me today and I thought my putting was good,” said Miyazato.

“I made bogeys on the first and second but didn’t panic. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and before the start of the round I was looking at even par,” she added.

World Cup-winner Miyazato, winner of three tournaments this season, finished second at the LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournament at Mission Hills Country Club last week to advance to the final qualifier in November with Shinobu Moromizato.

Meanwhile, Fujii eagled the ninth and had four birdies against three bogeys while Shiho Oyama and Chiaki Takahashi shared second after both carded 70s.

Yuri Fudo was in a tie for 73rd after a 6-over 78.

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