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Two-time champ Miyazato to end career at Evian

By Randall MellSeptember 12, 2017, 9:18 pm

Ai Miyazato will make her last appearance on her farewell tour at the Evian Championship this week.

The Japanese superstar picked a fitting place to say her final goodbye. She won the first of her nine LPGA titles at Evian Resort Golf Club in 2009. She rose to Rolex world No. 1 a year later.

Miyazato, 32, made an impression on her peers on and off the course.

Reigning world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu said Wednesday that she got emotional when Miyazato announced in late spring that she would be retiring later this year.

“I nearly cried,” Ryu said. “When I was young, Ai was one of my idols.

“As everybody knows, she was a great ambassador for this game, and she will be forever. She’s not just a great golfer. She’s a really great person.”

When Miyazato won Evian for a second time in 2011, she donated money from the winnings to help earthquake victims from her Japanese homeland.

Miyazato said both of her Evian titles were special.

With so much hype around taking her Japanese star power to the LPGA, Miyazato struggled to adjust. She was under intense pressure to win before breaking through at Evian in her fourth year on tour.


Evian Championship: Articles, video and photos


“That was a very special moment to me,” Miyazato said. “Obviously, I really struggled the first four years, since I came to the states, and I just couldn't play my best. It was a really tough moment that I had. But, finally, I won this tournament, and I remember the last putt, my hands were really shaky. It was almost impossible to hit the putt. It was a great memory, for sure.”

As a teenager in high school, Miyazato burst into the international spotlight by becoming the first amateur to win a JLPGA Tour event in 30 years. A year later, she won five times as a JLPGA rookie. She joined the American-based LPGA in 2006, bringing a large Japanese media contingent with her.

Miyazato was so immensely popular in Japan as a rising star, she would sometimes wear disguises in public to avoid creating scenes. She was credited with reviving the JLPGA Tour as World Golf Hall of Famer Ayako Okamoto’s career wound to an end.

Miyazato’s popularity should open a lot of doors to the next chapter of her life, whatever that might be.

“It's still up in the air,” Miyazato said. “I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm actually not making a decision, on purpose. I wanted to focus on every tournament, and I wanted to play well every tournament. It’s going to be the last tournament this week, but even this week, I still want to play well. Until the last moment, I still want to focus on my game. I want to enjoy every single moment.”

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Watch: Birds attack JT during post-round interview

By Grill Room TeamFebruary 17, 2018, 11:45 pm

Justin Thomas may have carded five birdies and an eagle on Saturday at the Genesis Open, but it was the two birds he encountered after his round that made for the biggest highlight.

Fresh off a third-round 67 that put him in the mix at Riviera Country Club through 54 holes, Thomas' post-round interview was interrupted by a couple of birds. Luckily, JT and CBS' Amanda Balionis were able to escape unscathed and with smiles on their faces.

Thomas will need to do a little worse at dodging birdies in the final round if he wants to catch the leaders on Sunday.

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."