• Kyodo


Overnight leader Miki Saiki exorcised her Great Island Club ghosts to end a three-year title drought at the Itoen Ladies on Sunday.

Haunted by a late meltdown at this tournament three years ago, Saiki held her nerve to fire a 69 and beat Mie Nakata by one stroke to claim her first title since her maiden victory at the 2007 Fujisankei Ladies Classic.

The 26-year-old from Hiroshima closed on 10-under 206, pocketing ¥16.2 million from the ¥90 million purse.

Saiki bogeyed the final two holes in regulation and missed out on the title here in 2007 in a three-way playoff against eventual winner Rui Kitada and Hiromi Mogi.

“I couldn’t win after taking my first title and there were times when I thought about packing the game in so I am absolutely overjoyed,” said Saiki.

Runner-up at the Japan Women’s Open last month, Saiki picked up four shots on a flawless front nine before making her first bogey on the 10th.

Saiki admitted Friday the emotional scars had still not fully healed from three years ago but she showed nerves of steel after three-putting for a bogey 17th hole with a par-putt for victory on the 18th.

“I remembered my defeat in the playoff three years ago when I was at the last two holes but I put in extra effort today because I didn’t want to cry again,” she said.

Lee Na Ri shot a 70 for third place, while compatriot and JLPGA money rankings leader Ahn Sun Ju (66) and Hiromi Takesue (68) shared fourth at 6 under.

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