Teen Sensation Miyazato a Rising Star

By Martin ParkFebruary 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
2004 Ladies European TourGOLD COAST, Australia -- Nineteen-year-old Japanese sensation Ai Miyazato admitted on the eve of the $635,000 ANZ Ladies Masters that she wants to become the world number one woman golfer and replace her golfing idol Annika Srenstam at the top of the rankings.
After a fast start to her fledgling career, its not just wishful thinking.
Miyazato, who won the inaugural Womens World Cup of Golf at Fancourt in South Africa alongside playing partner Rui Kitada, is already a sporting icon in her homeland and everywhere she goes, there is a massive media contingent from the written press, radio and television. So much so that over half of the media centre at the ANZ Ladies Masters was occupied by the Japanese contingent and in addition, a crew of over 20 television staff arrived at Royal Pines to film a documentary on her meteoric rise to stardom.
And Miyazatos first appearance in Australia caused a distinct shortage of accommodation in Surfers Paradise as her compatriots flocked from the winter of Japan to the sunshine of the Gold Coast to see her compete against some of the worlds top golfers such as Karrie Webb, Laura Davies, Karen Stupples and Rachel Hetherington.
Miyazato is, according to her manager Yuji Dave Otsuka, bigger than David Beckham in Japan and her face adorns many billboards across the country.
She has boosted the popularity of women's golf in the Land of the Rising Sun and such is and despite her diminutive 52 stature, she is metaphorically even bigger than Tiger Woods.
Last November when Woods won the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan, Miyazato was winning on the Japan LPGA. The events went head-to-head and her TV ratings easily out-rated those of Woods.
She stars in many television adverts including one for Suntory, the beer and whisky distributors, one of her main sponsors. However, somewhat incongruously, it is not legal to drink in Japan until the age of 20.
Miyazato became a household name when she won her first pro tournament at the Miyagi Cup in 2003 as an amateur and then turned professional and won five more times in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour of Japan. She posted a total of 16 top-ten finishes and earned more than 115million Yen in 2004, making her the first sports teenager in Japan to pass that earnings milestone.
This year, Miyazato has already notched up the biggest win of her young career and is making plans to raid the coffers of the LPGA Tour as soon as she can. Thanks to her performances, she has been granted an exemption for the first womens major championship of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March.
The World Cup was my biggest win and Ill never forget that week. I have my card in Japan for this year, so Ill try for the LPGA in America in 2006, said Miyazato, who grew up in Higashison on the north side of Okinawa.
The LPGA is a very competitive tour and I think I might need to improve a little more. I want to be like Annika and I think about that a lot. Im not sure how long it will take me to get to be world number one and I think I will need to be lucky, too.
Despite her stardom, Miyazato says she can still walk the streets in her hometown of Okinawa and go shopping without being hassled by her adoring fans.
But sometimes, I need to wear a hat, she giggled.
And like most modern teenagers, she is a big fan of music and movies. But she confessed that she does not like Japanese music, preferring the rock sounds of American band Green Day.
Oh, and I really like Brad Pitt, she confessed. My favourite movie is Troy, its so cool.
Miyazato took up golf at the age of four, inspired by her father, Masuru, who is a golf instructor and her two elder brothers, Yusaku and Kiyoshi, who play on the Japanese men's tour.
Despite her lack of height, she has an excellent power to weight ratio as she consistently hits her drives over 250-yards and her lowest score as a professional is 63.
Not only does she have her eye on the World number one spot in years to come, she also wants to win a major championship, something that no Japanese female player has ever done.
With her ability and with the right support network around her, it would come as little surprise to anyone. When she does and wherever she goes next it might be worth building a new town to cope with the entourage she brings with her.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.