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Miyazato finishes fifth with late push at Portland Classic

Kyodo, AP

Ai Miyazato mustered a final-round charge with six birdies against a lone bogey to finish fifth, her best of the season, at the Portland Classic on Sunday.

Miyazato, who has one tournament left before she retires from competitive golf, started the day nine shots back of the lead but got off to a birdie start before picking up four straight shots from the fourth hole at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

She finished the tournament tied with three others at 13-under after carding her second 67 of the tournament on Sunday.

Stacy Lewis won the tournament to end a long winless streak. As she promised earlier, Lewis, who grew up just outside Houston, Texas, will donate her $195,000 in winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her hometown area. Her two biggest sponsors also stepped up, with KPMG matching her donation and Marathon Oil kicking in $1 million.

“Probably was more pressure, to be honest,” Lewis said. “Honestly, I think that’s what helped me through the week, just knowing people wanted me to do well. People wanted me to win this for Houston. To do it when I added pressure to myself is a pretty good, pretty cool deal.”

She closed with a 3-under 69 to hold off Chun In-gee by a stroke.

In her last tournament in the U.S., Miyazato reminded the gallery why she was once world No. 1 with her solid play. She knocked down a seven-foot par putt on the ninth to make the turn with a bogey-free 31.

As she walked to the 18th green, the 32-year-old was surprised to hear some of her biggest feats announced over the loud speakers, and responded to her fans with a smile and a wave.

“I knew it would be difficult to make it to the top, but I kept myself motivated trying to see how far up (the leaderboard) I could get,” Miyazato said.

“I think I was able to play my kind of golf. I received a bouquet of flowers after the final hole and it got a little sentimental. I feel really blessed to get so much applause too. I’m feeling confident about my game so I hope I can continue this to the end,” she said.

She had a bogey on her closing hole which cost her a share of third but laughed it off, saying “it’s such a typical ending for me.”

Fellow Japanese Nasa Hataoka finished in a career-best 15th at 10-under, and Sakura Yokomine was in a three-way tie for 21st place one shot behind.

“I finished without being able to find my rhythm. It was too bad I couldn’t make the birdie putt on 18. But it was good I was able to shoot under-par all four days,” said Hataoka, who shot 67-70-70-71.

Miyazato announced last week that she has chosen the year’s final major, the Sept. 14-17 Evian Championship in France, as her last event.