ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND – Former world No. 1 Ai Miyazato, whose father and coach Masaru collapsed on the course on Tuesday and has been hospitalized, has decided to take part in the Women’s British Open as scheduled.
“He (Masaru) is in better condition than I thought. I have decided to play,” Miyazato told reporters Wednesday at St. Andrews, where she practiced in the rain after visiting her father at the hospital.
Miyazato, who is retiring at the end of this season, cut short the pro-amateur event to accompany her father, who was taken to the hospital by an ambulance. She did not give any details of his condition.
“At this stage he is still undergoing various tests and will remain in hospital,” said the 32-year-old. “He is in an unfamiliar country and for him to be in hospital will allow me to play with peace of mind.”
Ai, a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour, has two more chances to win a major title that has thus far eluded her: the Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major of the year in mid-September.
She placed third at the Women’s British Open in 2009 and heads into this week’s event on the back of a season-best 13th-place finish at the Ladies Scottish Open on Sunday.
“This is the home of golf and it will be fun working out how to tackle the course and the winds,” she said.
“I have experienced many different courses (in my career) and that has really widened my technical range. I’m really excited and the result (here) just depends on me.”
Ai competed in her first major at the 2004 Women’s British Open and will make her 14th consecutive appearance at the tournament. She has been given a sponsor’s exemption to play at this year’s event.
Ai swung her first club under the tutelage of Masaru when she was four years old, and won a pro tournament at the age of 18 in 2003 as a high-school student — before either of her elder brothers and fellow professional golfers, Yusaku and Kiyoshi, had claimed any silverware.
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