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Miyazato Breaks Maiden in Portland
Mika Miyazato of Japan closed with a 2-under 70 in the $1.5 million, 54-hole Safeway Classic at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club west of Portland, Ore., to get the first LPGA Tour victory of her career. The 22-year-old from Okinawa, who started Sunday at the Ghost Creek Course with a two-stroke lead, ended up at 13-under 203, earning $225,000.
Miyazato, no relation to fellow Japanese player Ai Miyazato - a nine-time LPGA winner (and no relation) who ran onto the 18th green to congratulate Mika, said afterward, ''At the beginning of the season, my short game was no good. I try to work more on short game. My golf game is getting better. I have more confidence in my golf game.''
American Brittany Lincicome shot a 67 to finish in second with Inbee Park (69), each earning $118,654, while another stroke back and taking home $63,377 each were South Koreans Haeji Kang (66) and Seo Yeon Ryu (71), and American Cristie Kerr (70). California's Sydnee Michaels ($42,545) also shot 70 to end up in seventh at 207.
Recent Stanford grad Michelle Wie posted a closing 69 and pocketed $37,274 for solo eighth at 8-under 208. Karine Icher of France (68) and I.K. Kim (69) each earned $32,003 for their piece of ninth another shot back, and No. 1-ranked Yani Tseng (73 and $28,237) ended up in 11th.
Tseng, who started the final round four strokes behind wire-to-wire winner Miyazato, seemed to think her recent problems are behind her, even after the 1-over final round. "It's so much better," she said of her play this weekend in Oregon. "I fought hard. I mean, I made birdie on 15, 16, and I had a little weird on number 9, and number 12 and 13, I hit into the water.
"This course goes straight, so I hit it in there like three or four times this week. So hopefully next year I'll come back and I can play better," added Tseng, who despite her recent difficulties has still won three times this year. "I feel good. I feel like I can really start next week. My golf game was right there. It's incredible. I'm really appreciative finishing 11th.
"I've never had that feeling of how much I was excited shooting 5 under yesterday. It's been a long time, so I really appreciate it, and I'm back. I mean, next week I can go there and win the tournament," Tseng added in reference to next week's Canadian Women's Open at historic Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam, British Columbia, about 260 miles north up Interstate 5 from Portland. That 72-hole, $2 million tournament starts Thursday.
Wie, who has also struggled mightily since graduating from Stanford University a couple months ago and switching her focus to becoming a full-time touring golf professional, was also pleased with her play the past three days. "I have to say, it feels good to get on the leaderboard and see my name up there consistently this week," said Wie, whose primary sponsor, Nike, is headquartered just down the road from Pumpkin Ridge in nearby Beaverton.
"It was a lot of fun. I have a lot of positives to take from this week to next week. I'm very excited to go to Canada and do it all over again," added the 22-year-old from Hawaii, whose last win - her second on the LPGA Tour - came in the 2010 Canadian Open at St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg.
Though the LPGA Tour's payouts are low compared to the PGA Tour (the winner of this week's weather-delayed, $5.2 million Wyndham Championship in North Carolina will earn $936,000), hopes are high this week and next in the Pacific Northwest. For all the scores of the Safeway Classic, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/Leaderboard.aspx.
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