Japan gain two shot victory
Teenager Ai Miyazato led Japan to an emotional two-shot victory in the inaugural co-sanctioned Women's World Cup of Golf at Fancourt Estate's Links Course on Sunday.
Joint leaders overnight with Scotland after Saturday's foursomes, the Japanese combination clinched the title after Miyazato carded a six-under-par 67 and Kitada an 82 in the last-day singles.
Miyazato, 19, put the Asian team on track for victory with a superb outward nine of 31.
"This is a team event and all I did was try and lift my own game and concentrate," she said after the pair finished on three-under 289 and immediately burst into tears. "The front nine was probably the best I've ever played."
Jennifer Rosales (71) and Dorothy Delasin (75) of the Philippines produced the lowest aggregate score of the day and climbed into a share of second at one under, level with South Korea's Jeong Jang (74) and Bo Bae Song (75).
Scotland's Janice Moodie (80) and Catriona Matthew (72) had to settle for fourth place a further shot back after struggling on a treacherous course that yielded an average last-day score of four-over 77.
After starting the day at six under following scores of 68 in the opening fourballs and 72 in Saturday's foursomes, Japan moved smoothly to 10 under after 10 holes, thanks to Miyazato's blistering first nine.
She picked up shots at the par-four first and the par-four third before reeling off four consecutive birdies from the seventh hole.
However, the unique tournament format with both individual scores counting in the final round meant they were unable to pull away from the field as Kitada endured a difficult day.
The 23-year-old completed an outward nine of 38 but then ran up two double bogeys and three bogeys as Japan slipped back to one under after 16 holes.
Their freefall was halted, though, when both players birdied the par-three 17th to open a two-shot lead over their nearest rivals.
Miyazato, who won more than $1 million in her rookie year on the Japanese Tour, hit her tee shot there to just three feet while Kitada holed a 15-footer for a matching birdie.
"That putt was the biggest in my career," Kitada, who has won twice on the Japanese Tour, said as tears streamed down her cheeks.
"I had missed shots all day and I felt like I was pulling Ai down. It was a terrible feeling, but that putt saved me and the helped the team."
The pair sealed victory, and the $200,000 first prize, with two pars on the par-five 18th.
Austria ended up at the bottom of the standings on 33 over par while Germany finished at 29 over.
Pre-tournament favourites Sweden, England and the United States finished on 13-over 305, five-over 297 and nine-over 301 respectively.
Although two versions of the Women's World Cup have previously been held, this was the first time the event has been co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and the U.S. Ladies Professional Golfers' Association.
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