Former Rolex World No.1 Ai Miyazato, who won the LET’s Money List in 2011, took home her eighth LPGA title in Hawaii.
The current world no.8 earned a four stroke victory at the inaugural LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf on Saturday. A final round of 2-under par 70 saw Miyazato finish at 12-under, four shots clear of Spain’s Azahara Muñoz and Korea’s Meena Lee.
Throughout the afternoon, the trio of Miyazato, Muñoz and Lee were tied atop the scoreboard at various points, but the Japanese star broke away from the pack with birdies at three of her last five holes – Nos. 13, 15 and 17. The win nets Miyazato $255,000 of the $1.7 million purse and increases her season earnings to $629,783 – second only to the Yani Tseng.
A tie for 56th place at the Kraft Nabisco Championship led Ai Miyazato to try several putting changes that paid off this week. Her dad, who serves as her swing coach and part-time putting coach, suggested a change in her stance and a weaker grip, both of which she worked on in the time off before Hawaii. “He gave me a couple tips, so I worked really hard with the two tips last couple weeks, and now it’s, you know, perfect rolling,” Miyazato said prior to the final round.
Azahara Muñoz matched her career-best finish with a tie for second at the LPGA LOTTE Championship. The Spaniard previously finished second at the 2011 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The 24-year-old was 3-under-par on the front-nine Saturday, but bogies at No. 10 and No. 14 – coupled with a strong finish from Ai Miyazato – knocked her off the top of the leaderboard. Regardless, she was pleased to be in a position to win. “That’s what we practice for,” Munoz said. “I’ve been missing this. At the end the year last year I was couple times in the last group, and I love it. That’s why we play golf.”