• Kyodo


Former women’s world No. 1 Ai Miyazato carded a 2-under-par 70 in the first round of the Suntory Ladies Open on Thursday, describing her first golf tournament since announcing she was retiring at the end of this season as business as usual.

Watched by a packed gallery, Miyazato, 31, bogeyed the 11th hole after teeing off on the back nine at Rokko Kokusai Golf Club, but she rebounded with a birdie at the 17th and picked up two more shots in a bogey-free outward journey for a share of 22nd place.

“It’s important that I go about my routine as usual. I was able to be the way I always am,” Miyazato said.

“I was able to play calmly. Until now (fans) have often shouted for me to try my best, but today a lot of fans were cheering thank you and that made me happy.”

Momoko Ueda, who plays with Miyazato on the U.S. LPGA Tour, was paired with the Okinawan star in the first round.

“I thought if I got emotional first it would cause a nuisance,” said Ueda. “I thought she (Miyazato) looked so cool when she made good putts.”

Miyazato told a news conference late last month that her struggles to stay motivated had triggered her decision to retire.

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