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Miyazato wins at Ko Olina for 8th LPGA title

Strong finish propels Japanese star to four-stroke victory

April 22, 2012
The Associated Press

KAPOLEI, Oahu (AP) - Ai Miyazato won the Lotte Championship on Saturday for her eighth career LPGA Tour title, birdieing three of the last six holes for a 2-under-par 70 and a four-stroke victory.

Miyazato finished at 12-under 276 at wind-swept Ko Olina Golf Club. She held a three-stroke lead entering the final round.

Meena Lee, ahead early on the back nine and tied for the lead after a birdie on No. 15, had a 70 to share second with Azahara Munoz at 8 under. Munoz finished with a 71.

Article Photos

Ai Miyazato celebrates after winning the Lotte Championship on Saturday.

AP photo

The whirlwind finish still had Miyazato a little flustered.

"I don't know what happened," said Miyazato, a 15-time winner in the Japan LPGA. "I just focused on my game. I was pretty nervous toward the end because I know everyone is playing so well. I had to finish really strong."

The 26-year-old Miyazato made a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 15th. Lee, down one playing 18, then hit her approach into a bunker and three-putted from 30 feet for double bogey, ending her chances. Lee said she knew she needed to get it close on 18 to put pressure on Miyazato.

"But I was a little bit downwind," Lee said about the shot that flew over the green and into the bunker. "I tried to go for the pin and then I end up three-putting. I tried."

Miyazato's win is her first since the Evian Masters last year in France.

"I just keep saying to myself just to be patient and no rush," Miyazato said. "I've been playing so well this year."

It was Miyazato's fifth top-10 finish in six events this year, and her first victory in Hawaii in nine tries.

After her father gave her a putting tip following a poor finish at the Kraft Nabisco three weeks ago, the 5-foot-1 star needed only 53 putts in the last two rounds.

"I was disappointed about the Nabisco," Miyazato said. "But after Nabisco I worked hard and kind of said to myself just to keep going."

Honolulu's Ayaka Kaneko, competing in her first year on tour, closed with a 79 - her worst round of the tournament - to finish in a tie for 67th place at 8 over.



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