Ai Miyazato should be at her best for the Evian Masters presented by Société Générale this month, when the event takes place at Evian Masters Golf Club in France from 26-29 July. The twice winner of the tournament, in 2009 and 2011, earned her second victory of the 2012 LPGA Tour season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday.
The 27-year-old from Okinawa fired a final round of six under par 65 to overcome a five shot deficit and claim the ninth LPGA title of her career, finishing a stroke clear of fellow Japanese player Mika Miyazato and Azahara Munoz of Spain.
Ai started the day five shots back of second-round leader, rookie Veronica Felibert, but tallied four birdies on the front nine to vault into contention. Two more birdies on No. 13 and 15 then moved Ai Miyazato into a share of the lead before a bogey on the par-3 17th put her one shot back heading into her final hole. She hit her third shot on 18 to about 4 feet and drained the putt to move to 12-under. Mika Miyazato, who had also been 12-under, bogeyed No. 17 to drop one behind her and then missed a six-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff.
“After the second round, I didn’t really expect that I can win this tournament, you know, because I was five shots behind, and I watched Veronica’s game yesterday on TV, she made everything, so I was like I have to shoot like really, really low score today,” said Ai. “Just no expectation before the round, so that helps. I could focus on just every single shot, and I had really controlled myself really well out there, so that’s why I think I played really well.”
Last year, the world number three claimed her second Evian Masters title by two strokes from American Stacy Lewis.
The event, which is co-sanctioned between the LPGA and LET, saw her collect a bumper first prize cheque of €363,079.63 which meant that she also won the LET’s season-ending Henderson Money List for 2011. She later donated part of her winnings to tsunami relief efforts in Japan.