Ai Miyazato proves that powerful things come in small packages.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

April 26 2012, Ward Clayton
The 5-foot-2 Japanese star won the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf last week in Hawaii, giving her eight career wins on the LPGA, all compacted into the last four years. She is known for her deliberate swing tempo and excellent short game, displayed by leading the LPGA in putting this season.

“Golf is a really funny sport,” Miyazato, 26, said a few years ago. “I think in golf, physical stature maybe really doesn't matter that much, and it's also a game that requires patience. And I think Asians are perhaps patient people, and they don't get too emotional at times. So maybe that's why I feel that golf and the Asian personality, they fit pretty well.”Some family bonding and brother-sister rivalry may also be a factor.

Miyazato started playing golf at age 4 in her native Okinawa. Her father, Masuru, is a golf instructor and her teacher. Older brothers Yusaku, 31, and Kiyoshi, 35, play on the Japan Golf Tour. Yusaku actually made a name for the family first in the United States when he aced two par 3s in the second round of the PGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open in 2006.

Miyazato’s’s resurgence in Hawaii last week can be attributed to advice from her father. He suggested that Ai go back to a wider putting stance, which improved her balance, and also weakened her grip a bit. The result was a mere 53 putts in the final two rounds at Ko Olina Golf Club last week.

Miyazato has also been attentive to her homeland, especially after the earthquake disaster in 2011. When she won the 2011 Evian Masters, she donated a portion of her $487,500 winner’s check  toward the Japanese relief effort. Additionally, she combined with Japanese LPGA players Mika Miyazato (no relation) and Momoko Ueda to raise approximately $130,000 to date in support.

Miyazato’s next goal is to move back near the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, where she was No. 1 as recently as late 2010. Five top-10s in six starts this season and a second-place standing in earnings have pushed her up to a No. 5 ranking. Next would be a first career major championship victory. She has two ties for third in the Wegmans LPGA Championship – the next major in early June – as her best finishes among nine career top-10 major finishes.

Topics: Miyazato, Ai, Player Feature

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