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Japanese Teen Ties Record to Lead Ladies Masters

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2004 Ladies European TourGOLD COAST, Australia -- The hype surrounding the arrival of Japanese sensation Ai Miyazato before the $800,000 ANZ Ladies Masters began proved to be entirely justified as she equaled the course record with a 9-under-par 63 during the early play of the first round at Royal Pines GC on Australias Gold Coast.
 
The 19-year-old phenomenon from Okinawa sits seven shots ahead of playing partner Karrie Webb, the joint record holder who carded a 63 in 1999 en route to setting the tournament record of 26-under par.
 
Miyazatos nearest challenger is one of Australias top prospects, 22-year-old Katherine Hull, winner of last weeks ALPG Championship, who notched up an impressive 6-under-par 66 of her own to sit in outright second place.
 
And after a glut of low scoring on a perfect day when 78 players finished at even par or better, three players share third spot on 5-under-par; Australias Nikki Campbell, Linda Wessberg from Sweden and Englands Kirsty S. Taylor, who made a fabulous up and down from the bunker at the final hole despite suffering from a migraine and pains from a stomach ulcer.
 
A shot further back are six players including Englands Lora Fairclough, who jumped to 4-under-par thanks to an eagle two at the par-4 17th where she holed a nine iron from 125-yards. Joining Fairclough is Nadina Taylor and Carlie Butler from Australia, Cecilia Ekelundh and Asa Gottmo from Sweden and Elisabeth Esterl from Germany.
 
But the story of the day was about the Japanese phenomenon.
 
With Miyazato, Webb and Hull drawn together, it was hardly surprising the gallery was the biggest ever on the first day of this tournament, which has been running for 16 years.
 
Not only was the gallery out in the thousands, but the Japanese media contingent was also out in force to follow their countrys most famous sporting star. After a straw poll of photographers, it is estimated more than 10,000 pictures were taken of the pint-sized prodigy during her first round in Australia.
 
Starting at the tenth hole, amid of flurry of shots from the Nikon and Canon camera brigade, Miyazato set the early pace with four birdies on her front nine to turn in 31. She stretched away from her playing partners with a blistering front nine making birdies at the first four holes, adding her final birdie at the eighth.
 
It was awesome to watch and thats probably the easiest 9-under Ive ever seen, said Webb.
 
But Miyazato claimed it was far from easy.
 
No, no way was it easy. I putted very good today and I felt very relaxed. I had a lot of support out there and it felt a little bit like Japan. There were too many Japanese out there today, she said, referring to the photographers.
 
I thought at the start of the week I could shoot 3-or-4-under-par each round, so 9-under is much better than I expected. I will try and shoot 3-or-4-under for the next three days.
 
Hull, a powerful 510 blonde who turns 23 on Saturday, admitted to riding on a wave of confidence after her performances over the last three weeks was also impressed by the 52 Miyazato.
 
She hits it long for her sizeshe really packs a punch, said Hull, who finished second at the ABC Learning Centres Classic and went on to win the ALPG Tour Championship at Club Pelican last week on the Sunshine Coast.
 
Ive had a huge confidence boost over the last three weeks and Im not going to put any pressure on myself, just play my own game and hopefully hole a few more putts.
 
Scores - Round 1
 
63 - Ai Miyazato (JPN)
 
66 - Katherine Hull (AUS)
 
67 - Linda Wessberg (SWE), Nikki Campbell (AUS), Kirsty S Taylor (ENG)
 
68 - Lora Fairclough (ENG), Nadina Taylor (AUS), Cecilia Ekelundh (SWE), Asa Gottmo (SWE), Elisabeth Esterl (GER), Carlie Butler (AUS)
 
69 - Nicole Stillig-Gogele (GER), Jenny Sevil (AUS), Laura Davies (ENG), Mi Sun Cho (Am) (AUS), Alison Munt (AUS), Jane Leary (AUS), Rachel Hetherington (AUS), Karine Icher (FRA), Shani Waugh (AUS), Iben Tinning (DEN), Georgina Simpson (ENG)
 
70 - Gwladys Nocera (FRA), Ya Ni Tseng (Am) (TAI), Rebecca Stevenson (AUS), Grace Lee (KOR), Karrie Webb (AUS), Diana Luna (ITA), Anne-Marie Knight (AUS), Amanda Moltke-Leth (DEN), Cherie Byrnes (AUS), Marta Prieto (ESP), Fiona Pike (AUS), Minea Blomqvist (FIN), Kylie Pratt (AUS), Stefania Croce (ITA), Rachel Bailey (AUS)
 
71 - Nicole James (AUS), Eleanor Pilgrim (WAL), Sophie Giquel (FRA), Laurette Maritz (SA), Sara Beautell (ESP), Nathalie David (FRA), Marine Monnet-Melocco (FRA), Ludivine Kreutz (FRA), Karen Stupples (ENG), Hsiao Chuan Lu (TAI), Maria Hjorth (SWE), Sophie Sandolo (ITA), Anja Monke (GER), Tamie Durdin (AUS), Martina Eberl (GER), Melanie Holmes-Smith (AUS), So-Hee Kim (KOR), Joanne Mills (AUS), Hyun Hee Moon (KOR), Maria Boden (SWE), Ursula Tuutti (FIN)
 
72 - Anna Rawson (AUS), Sarah Douglass (AUS), Tamara Johns (AUS), Mianne Bagger (DEN), Nicola Moult (ENG), Kathryn Marshall (SCO), Susan Parry (USA), Helen Beatty (AUS), Marlene Hedblom (SWE), Mardi Lunn (AUS), Miriam Nagl (GER), Denise Simon (GER), Tina Fischer (GER), Corinne Dibnah (AUS), Sarah-Jane Kenyon (AUS), Becky Brewerton (WAL), Rebecca Coakley (IRE), Gina Scott (NZ), Johanna Waldh (SWE), Vicky Uwland (AUS)
 
73 - Emma Zackrisson (SWE), Karen Lunn (AUS), Charlotta Sorenstam (SWE), Eun A Lim (KOR), Barbara Paruscio (ITA), Natalie Parkinson (AUS), Rachel Duncan (AUS), Riikka Hakkarainen (FIN), Tiffany Joh (Am) (AUS), Hea Kyung Son (KOR), Veronica Zorzi (ITA)
 
74 - Pam Sowden (NZ), Zuzana Kamasova (SVK), Lynnette Brooky (NZ), Jenni Kuosa (FIN), Heidi McCulkin (AUS), Louise Ferguson (AUS), Anna Highgate (WAL), Won Mi Park (KOR), Dale Reid (SCO)
 
75 - Valerie Van Ryckeghem (BEL), Carina Vagner (DEN), Virginie Lagoutte (FRA), Ana Larraneta (ESP), Loraine Lambert (AUS), Michelle Bristow (AUS), Bettina Hauert (GER), Helena Alterby (SWE), Jane Crafter (AUS), Nicole Lowien (AUS), Leah Hart (AUS), Margherita Rigon (ITA), Carmen Railton (AUS)
 
76 - Tanya Paterson (AUS), Wendy Hawkes (NZ), Katy Jarochowicz (AUS), Geraldine Brown (AUS), Katie Bakken (USA), Yuka Shiroto (JAP), Hazel Kavanagh (IRE), Lisa Jean (AUS), Natascha Fink (AUT), Elisa Serramia (ESP), Karen Pearce (AUS), Karen Margrethe Juul (DEN), Adele Bannerman (AUS), Joanna Whalley (AUS)
 
77 - Diane Pavich (AUS), Cecilie Lundgreen (NOR), Joanne Bannerman (AUS), Elizabeth McKinnon (NZ), Marousa Polias (AUS), Kris Lindstrom (USA)
 
78 - Angela Harris (AUS), Jane Evans (AUS), Tamara Hyett (AUS), Dana Lacey (AUS)
 
79 - Kerry Knowles (ENG), Katherine Leyshon (AUS), Sarah Heath (ENG), Janelle Smith (AUS)
 
80 - Nuria Clau (ESP), Karina Oerum (DEN)
 
81 - Catherine Knight (NZ)
 
85 - Amanda Vloedmans (AUS), Therese Hjertstedt (SWE)