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Eighth-career LPGA victory for Miyazato
April 21, 2012

Ai Miyazato, 2012 LOTTE Champion

Ai Miyazato claimed her eighth-career LPGA victory by four shots over Azahara Munoz and Meena Lee at the inaugural LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf. Miyazato, the No. 8 ranked player on the Rolex Rankings, shot 70 in the final round to end the week at 12-under-par 276. Throughout the afternoon, the trio of Miyazato, Munoz 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 Munoz 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.

Meena Lee was in position to challenge Ai Miyazato for a victory on the 18th hole, but an untimely double bogey dropped her into a tie for second. Lee, who won at Ko Olina during the 2006 Fields Open, was tied with Miyazato for most of the back-nine – in fact, she led for a brief period at 10-under-par – but a poor shot from the greenside bunker on 18 followed by a three-putt dropped her to 8-under-par 280 in a tie with Azahara Munoz. Lee, a South Korean who resides in Orlando, won twice in the first 30 tournaments of her career in 2005 and 2006, but is winless since.

So Yeon Ryu continued her quest for Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors with a tie for fourth at the LOTTE Championship. Seo, the winner of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open as a member of the KLPGA, now has a tie for second and three ties for fourth through seven events in 2012. She boasts a 141-point lead in the Rookie of the Year race over Lexi Thompson.

Meena Lee, Azahara Munoz and Cristie Kerr punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.

Miyazato is going to Canyon Ranch. With her victory at the 2012 LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf, Ai Miyazato earned an all-inclusive stay for two at a Canyon Ranch resort. In a combined effort to promote health and overall well-being among Tour players, Canyon Ranch will provide every winner of an LPGA event with one all-inclusive stay at one of Canyon Ranch's two destination resorts.

Yani Tseng continued her top-10 streak with a tie for 10th. She has finished in the top-10 of all seven events this season and eight in a row dating back to 2011… The par-4 18th hole played the second hardest overall to the tune of 4.27. Miyazato played the hole in 1-under-par this week… The four active players who have been Rolex Rankings No. 1 finished in the top-10: Miyazato (win), Cristie Kerr (T4), Jiyai Shin (T7) and Yani Tseng (T10).

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