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Half-empty, half-full: Japan comeback stuns Aussies

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Japanese golf fans will remember it as a terrific comeback. 

Australian golf fans will remember it as an epic collapse.

For Japan’s Ai Miyazato and Sakura Yokomine, earning a half Saturday at the International Crown felt like a victory. For Aussies Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright, the half felt like a loss.

Six up with seven holes to play, Kirk and Wright couldn’t close out.

“It hurts, obviously, but we can't change what's happened,” Kirk said. “We can learn from it and certainly go out there tomorrow and try and make amends.”

After making six birdies over the first 11 holes, Kirk and Wright didn’t make a birdie the rest of the way. They did make a double bogey and two bogeys in that closing stretch despite playing a best-ball format.

It didn’t help that their swoon came after the group was put on the clock.

“We lost our timing, and that was pretty much it,” Wright said.

Japan took advantage of the opening, making three birdies over the final seven holes. Yokomine holed a spectacular 50-foot putt up and over a ridge at the 17th hole. The Japanese won the 18th hole with a par for the half after Wright hit her approach in the water and Kirk couldn’t convert a putt for par.

“After the 12th hole, something just clicked,” Miyazato said. “It was just amazing.”