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Stats and Stuff: Mika Miyazato's first win draws comparisons

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Mika Miyazato of Japan celebrates her win with a par putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the Safeway Classic at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club on August 19, 2012 in North Plains, Oregon.

August 22 2012, Ward Clayton

Mika Miyazato’s first win draws comparisons

With her win last week at the Safeway Classic presented by Coca-Cola, Mika Miyazato became the third different Japanese player to win the Portland, Ore., tournament and also the 11th to win an event on the LPGA.

World Golf Hall of Famer Ayako Okamoto and nine-time LPGA winner Ai Miyazato are previous Japanese players who have won the Safeway. Mika joined Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda – who doused her with champagne on the 18th green after the win – as currently active Japanese winners on the LPGA.

Miyazato had been one of the hottest players on the LPGA this summer. The 22-year-old has recorded finishes of seventh or better in six of her last seven starts (the other was a T16). She hit 37 of 39 fairways last week and leads the LPGA in Driving Accuracy at 84.9 percent. She is also fourth in Greens in Regulation (73.3 percent) and hit 46 of 54 greens in her Safeway win. But she attributes the recent success to another facet of her game.

“Yeah, my golf game is getting better, like my short game,” Miyazato said. “At the beginning of the season, my short game was no good. So I got more practice in the short game and more confidence now so I can do it.  So I believe in myself.”

Miyazato has frequently been connected to Ai because of their same last names (no relation) and similarities in their games and physical stature. Both were instructed by Ai’s father, Masaru. At age 10, Mika first met Ai when she traveled to take lessons from Masaru. Here are some of the similarities between the two:

  Mika Ai
Height 5-2 5-1
Home Okinawa, Japan Okinawa, Japan
Teacher Masaru Miyazato Masaru Miyazato
First Win* 83rd start 79th start
Age at First Win 22 24
     
*-As LPGA members.    


Michaels’ big start

Rookie Sydnee Michaels shared the first-round lead at last week’s Safeway Classic and finished seventh. The first-round 65 and the finish were both career bests, by far. She moved to fifth in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings with the finish.

Michaels, a UCLA graduate, is a Southern California native and the youngest of eight children. Her family and boyfriend were in attendance in Portland.

“Nobody in my family plays, not even my parents,” Michaels said. “No one plays golf.  I don’t even think they really know what’s going on, so they’re just clapping when everyone else is clapping. But they love and support me. That’s all I could ask for.”

Going to Vancouver

The CN Canadian Women’s Open will be played at one of Canada’s oldest courses this week, The Vancouver Golf Club in Vancouver, British Columbia. It will be the third time an LPGA event has been played there. The previous two were major championships at the du Maurier Classic in 1988 (Sally Little) and 1991 (Nancy Scranton), with both winners totaling 9-under par. The du Maurier was a major from 1979-2000.

The course was designed by Mike Gardner in the early 1900s and the routing remains essentially the same – the par-35 front nine on hilly terrain and the flatter par-37 back nine which ends with five consecutive par 4s.

There have been other LPGA and PGA Tour events held in Vancouver, at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, Point Gray Golf & Country Club and Northview Golf & Country Club.

This will be the second LPGA tournament in Canada this year. Brittany Lang won the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic on June 24 at Grey Silo Golf Club in Waterloo, Ontario.

Wie’s late summer surge

Michelle Wie showed signs of a resurgence last week at the Safeway Classic, finishing eighth. It was Wie’s best finish in 2012 and her best since a T6 at the 2011 season-ending CME Titleholders. Wie recorded three rounds under par at the Safeway and had two eagles during the competition.

The finish leads Wie into the CN Canadian Women’s Open, the most successful event of her LPGA career. Wie won the tournament in 2010 and finished T2 last year.

In addition, she may have found a new look the boost her confidence. Her pony tail was blonde last week in Portland.

“I get crazy with my hair sometimes,” Wie said after her final round. “It happened last week. I might go more blonde, I may not.”


Canadian LeBlanc out for season

The field for this week’s CN Canadian Women’s Open includes 15 Canadians. However, rookie Maude-Aimee LeBlanc from Quebec will not play after a stress fracture in her back has sidelined the long-hitter for the remainder of the season. LeBlanc, a former Purdue player, leads the LPGA in Driving Distance with a 282-yard average. In eight starts this season, LeBlanc, 23, had a best finish of T29 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and has won $43,165, 92nd on the money list. Her last start came in early July at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She has requested a medical exemption for the 2013 season.

One new face in the field will be 15-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand. The reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion will be joined by Thailand’s 16-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn, the Canadian Women’s Amateur champion.

The only players in the top 50 on the current LPGA Official Money List not competing at The Vancouver Golf Club are Se Ri Pak (shoulder injury) and Caroline Hedwall (hip injury).


Etc.

Defending CN Canadian Women’s Open champion Brittany Lincicome is riding a streak of eight consecutive rounds of par or better in the tournament. In a T15 finish in 2010, she shot par or better in each round. Last year, she shot four sub-par rounds. In seven career CN Canadian Women’s Open starts, Lincicome has never missed a cut and her worst finish was a T50 in 2006. … Last week’s Safeway Classic was the last 54-hole American event on the LPGA. The LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship in South Korea (Oct. 19-21) and the Mizuno Classic in Japan (Nov. 2-4) are the only remaining 54-hole events on the LPGA this season. … Jocelyne Bourassa was the last Canadian to win the CN Canadian Women’s Open. She won in 1973 at La Canadienne Golf Championship. The men’s Canadian Open has a longer drought for a Canadian winner of the national championship, as Pat Fletcher in 1954 is the last Canadian to capture the title.

Topics: Stats and Stuff, Canadian Pacific Women's Open, Portland Classic

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