BANDO, Ibaraki Pref. – Mika Miyazato captured the first title of her professional career Sunday, winning the Japan Women’s Open by six strokes.
The less-famous Miyazato, who plays mostly on the U.S. LPGA Tour, closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 12-under 276 at Otone Country Club.
For the second straight year, Miyazato entered the final round of this major with a four-shot lead. But she showed no signs of repeating last year’s final-round meltdown that dropped her into a tie for sixth.
The 2006 world junior champion picked up two birdies on the front nine and added three in a row from the 13th hole.
Miyazato became the second-youngest Japan Women’s Open winner one week short of her 21st birthday when she tapped in for her only bogey of the day at the 18th. Ai Miyazato, currently ranked No. 1 in the world in women’s golf, won the 2005 Open at 20 years, 105 days.
“It was very disappointing last year. This time I wanted to show the gallery how much I’ve grown as a golfer,” said Mika Miyazato, who began her pro career on the U.S. LPGA Tour last year. “I’m glad I was able to improve my score today.”
“I wasn’t nervous at the start of the round. It’s an unbelievable feeling to win this major tournament in Japan. I hope I’ll get a win in the U.S., too,” she said.
Miki Saiki was alone in second after a 69. Money leader Ahn Sun Ju shot the day’s low round of 67 to finish third at 5 under.
Ai Miyazato had a 74 that put her in ninth at even-par 288.
“I had a sore throat this morning and felt woozy, but I was determined to play through the 18th hole no matter what happened,” the 25-year-old star said. “I just played hard to keep my JLPGA tour card.”
Three-time U.S. LPGA major winner Yani Tseng (71) shared 15th place with Yuri Fudo (71) at 4 over.
MIYOSHI , Aichi Pref. (Kyodo) Michio Matsumura prevailed in a three-way playoff to win the Coca-Cola Tokai Classic on Sunday for his first JGTO Tour victory.
Defending champion Ryo Ishikawa shot a 69 in the final round at Miyoshi Country Club to finish two strokes behind Matsumura, Hiroyuki Fujita and Takashi Kanemoto, who were all tied in regulation at 8-under 280.
The 27-year-old Matsumura, who is in his fourth year on the tour, came out ahead in the third playoff hole to capture the winner’s prize of ¥24 million.
“I’ve always fallen apart on the last day, but I finally found a way to beat the pressure,” Matsumura said. “I don’t think I could be happier. I know I don’t have the game to match (Fujita), but I just didn’t want to get beaten by him mentally.”
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