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Miyazato wins HSBC Women's Champions

Japan’s Ai Miyazato shot 69 in the final round of the third-annual HSBC Women’s Champions to win the second-consecutive event of the 2010 LPGA season.  The 24-year-old’s 72-hole tally of 10-under-par 278 was two shots better than Cristie Kerr, who finished alone in second at 8-under-par 280.  With the victory, Miyazato becomes the first player since LPGA Founder Marilynn Smith in 1966, a span of 44 years, to win consecutive season-opening events.
“I feel honored to be among those great winners,” Miyazato said of past HSBC winners Lorena Ochoa and Jiyai Shin. “This is obviously a great start for me, but the LPGA is such a tough Tour, and it's also very tough to keep winning.”
Nine players were tied for the lead early in the day following bogies at one and two by co-leaders Miyazato and Juli Inkster.  In the end, Miyazato’s greatest challenge came from 12-time winner Cristie Kerr, who was 6-under-par on the day through 16 holes with a share of the lead.  Errant drives at 17 and 18 led to bogies for Kerr, who dropped back into second, allowing Miyazato to follow two groups behind with easy pars at 17 and 18 to claim her third LPGA title in the past six months.
Miyazato came from six shots back to win last week’s Honda PTT LPGA Thailand with a final-round 63.  Following the victory, she jumped to Rolex Rankings No. 4, up from eighth.  Miyazato, who will play next week at the Daikin Orchid Ladies on the LPGA of Japan (JLPGA), now leads the money list with $390,000. 
Four players tied for third place at 7-under-pra 281, including defending champion Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, Yani Tseng and Song-Hee Kim.
Interesting Facts:
Singapore winners.  In three years as a Tour event, the HSBC Women’s Champions has lived up to it’s name.  In 2008, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lorena Ochoa won the inaugural HSBC Women’s Champions by 11 shots.  Last year, Jiyai Shin, who went on to earn 2009 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors and climb to Rolex Rankings No. 2, overcame a six-shot deficit to win the Singapore-based event.  This season, Rolex Rankings No. 4 Ai Miyazato took home the hardware with two-shot win for her second-consecutive LPGA victory.  The 63-player field included 54 of the top 55 players in the world. 
Back-to-back victories in the first two official events of the season.
Marilyn Smith – 1966 (Kathy Whitworth won an unofficial Tour event in Venezuela to begin the season)
St. Petersburg Women’s Open
Louise Suggs Delray Beach Invitational
Mickey Wright – 1963
Sea Island Women’s Invitational
St. Petersburg Women’s Open
Louise Suggs – 1952
Jacksonville Open
Tampa Open
Babe Zaharias – 1951
Ponte Vedra Beach Women’s Open
Tampa Women’s Open

- Image by Getty Images

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