• Kyodo


Ai Miyazato finished 26th after what could be the last round of her career in Japan at the Suntory Ladies Open on Sunday.

Playing in her first event since announcing she’ll retire at season’s end, the former world No. 1 carded a 2-under 286 total to place 13 shots behind Kim Ha-neul, who posted her third win of the season. For the day, Miyazato had five birdies against four bogeys.

On the final hole, Miyazato, 31, wept after sinking her par putt from the collar to draw a huge ovation from the record crowd at Rokko Kokusai Golf Club in Hyogo Prefecture.

“I’d give myself a passing mark for the four days overall,” said Miyazato, who has 15 wins on the Japanese tour and nine on the U.S. LPGA circuit.

“This was a special tournament for me, and the motivation I had for this was a bit different. I’m glad I had an opportunity to compete through all four days.

“I’m so grateful for all the fans who came out and supported me. I played the whole week with nothing but gratitude. This is a week I’ll never forget.”

Miyazato will return stateside, but her plans beyond the Sept. 14-17 Evian Championship — the fifth and final major of the season — remain up in the air.

“The season is not over yet,” she said. “Now if only I can repay those people who have supported me by getting the ultimate results.”

Miyazato could end her career at the Evian Championship, where the Okinawan won her first LPGA event back in 2009. She has decided to retire because she has found it increasingly difficult to maintain her motivation to compete.

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