• Kyodo

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Ai Miyazato missed the cut in Japan for the first time in seven years and only the third time in her career at the season-opening Daikin Orchid Ladies on Saturday.

The U.S. LPGA star, who once reached the world No. 1 rank last year, finished two strokes below the cut line at 3-over 147 after a second-round 73.

Miyazato made an early exit from Ryukyu Golf Club, where she picked up the second of her 15 career wins on the Japanese tour, including once as an 18-year-old amateur in 2003.

“I didn’t play bad today. It was just hard to make up ground after shooting 4 over in the first round,” Miyazato said.

In front of her home fans, the 25-year-old Okinawa native struggled early again, with a pair of bogeys in her first three holes.

She ended up carding only one birdie.

“My putts lipped out about six times over the last two days. Things might’ve been different if some of them had gone in,” Miyazato said. “I might’ve disappointed the people in Okinawa, but I did my best. I’ll try to bounce back on the U.S. tour.

“Something like this happens sometimes in a long career. I just accept this result and see what I can do next. The season has only started.”

Saiki Fujita saw her two-shot overnight lead cut to one after a 69 left her at 8 under.

The 25-year-old made four birdies against one bogey.

“I didn’t get help from the wind like yesterday,” Fujita said. “But I still played well. I’ve been able to concentrate on my game without caring about other players’ scores. I’ll just take the same approach in tomorrow’s final round.”

Little-known Lala Anai has emerged as a surprise title contender as she produced a birdie-eagle finish for a 67 and a share of second place with Australian Nikki Campbell (68).

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