Japan’s Mika Miyazato wins LPGA Safeway Classic

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Japan’s Mika Miyazato wins LPGA Safeway Classic

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Mika Miyazato, from Okinawa, poses with her trophy after winning the LPGA Safeway Classic in North Plains, Ore., on Sunday. [AP/YONHAP]

NORTH PLAINS, Ore. - Mika Miyazato made a name for herself in the Safeway Classic.

Long stuck in the shadow of fellow Japanese player Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato won her first LPGA Tour title Sunday, finishing with a two-under-par 70 to beat Park In-bee and Brittany Lincicome by two strokes.

‘’It was my dream to win and play on the LPGA Tour,’’ Mika Miyazato said.

Ai Miyazato, a nine-time LPGA Tour winner, ran on the 18th green to congratulate Mika Miyazato after the breakthrough victory. She is the 11th Japanese player to win on the LPGA Tour and the third to win the event, following Ayaka Okamoto in 1986 and Ai Miyazato in 2010.

‘’It is very fulfilling for me to win along with those other famous players,’’ Mika Miyazato said.

The 22-year-old Miyazato finished at 13-under 203 in her wire-to-victory on Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek Course. She shared the first-round lead and had a two-shot advantage after the second.

Lincicome closed with a 67, and Park had a 70.

The 22-year-old Miyazato, in her fourth season on the LPGA Tour, is the sixth first-time winner this year. Since June, she has had six top-10 finishes, including second-place ties in the NW Arkansas Championship and LPGA Championship.

Korea’s Kang Hae-ji had a 66 - the best round of the day - to tie for fourth at 10 under with Cristie Kerr (70) and Korea’s Ryu So-yeon (71). Sydnee Michaels, the first-round co-leader, was four strokes back after a 70.

Michelle Wie had her first top-10 finish of the season, shooting a 69 to finish eighth at eight under.

‘’It feels good to get on the leaderboard and see my name up there consistently this week,’’ Wie said. ‘’It was a lot of fun.’’

Top-ranked Yani Tseng faded with a 73 to finish at two under. Paula Creamer was three under after a 76.

Miyazato was cruising on the front nine, and took a three-stroke lead into the back nine. But a bogey at No. 10 - her first in 40 holes - helped bring four players within a stroke of the lead down the stretch.

Miyazato’s tee shot at the par-3 11th was headed for a creek near the green, but the ball glanced off a rock and landed near the green. Miyazato was able to salvage par by making a 25-foot putt.

“After the 10th hole, I was so disappointed with my chipping shot. I’m so angry with myself,’’ Miyazato said. “My tee shot [at 11], I thought I got it into the water hazard. Maybe lucky for me there.’’

Though her game was solid, Miyazato said she was a wreck: “My inside heart was so much beating.’’ Miyazato earned $225,000.

AP

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