NORTH PLAINS, OR - AUGUST 19: Mika Miyazato of Japan watches her tee shot on the 4th hole during the final round of the Safeway Classic at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club on August 19, 2012 in North Plains, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Mika Miyazato does not let the snail-like pace of play derail her from her first LPGA Tour win.
Almost an hour passed between the time Mika Miyazato hit her tee shot on the par-3 16th hole and when she tapped in on 18 for the first winning putt of her LPGA career. But the four-year tour veteran was not about to complain about the pace of play in the final round of the Safeway Classic.
“It’s my dream to play and win on the LPGA Tour,” Miyazato, who is no relation to her good friend, nine-time tour victor Ai Miyazato, told reporters after earning a two-shot, 13-under win over Brittany Lincicome and Inbee Park on the Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains, Ore.
The 22-year-old entered Sunday’s finale with a two-stroke advantage over rookie So Yeon Ryu and never let it go -- even after weathering a more than 20-minute wait for the green at the drivable par-4 17th to clear. Some 50 minutes later (Golf Channel analyst Judy Rankin joked that it was like watching Miyazato notch her first win "in slo-mo"), she had held fast, despite a late surge by Lincicome.
“I tried not to think of being the leader the whole time,” Miyazato said. “I just concentrated on playing well.”
The big-hitting Lincicome, who ranks second on tour in average driving distance (278 yards), will head into this week’s Canadian Women’s Open brimming with confidence after her prowess with the short stick helped her nearly wipe away the five-stroke deficit with which she began the day.
“It was pretty much putting,” said Lincicome. “I had a lot of eight-footers to save par. I was getting up and down from everywhere. I was making everything. So it was not one shot here or there, it was just the putter kind of saving me hole after hole after hole.”
Lincicome, who hopes to defend her Canadian Women’s title, added a T2 to her year-long tally of three other top-10 finishes that included another tie for second at the season-opening Australian Open.
Another Canadian Women’s Open champ, Michelle Wie, was looking forward to returning to the event at which, in 2010, she grabbed her second of two tour wins. In addition to some notable chip-ins, Wie’s flat stick rolled the ball beautifully during last week’s 54-hole contest.
“I felt like I won after I made that putt on the last hole,” said a blonde Wie, who came off her seventh missed cut of the season to chalk up an eighth-place finish, her first top-10 close since last year’s Titleholder Championship. “But I have to say, it feels good to get on the leaderboard and see my name up there consistently this week. It was a lot of fun. I have a lot of positives to take from this week to next week. I'm very excited to go to Canada and do it all over again.”
Yani Tseng will also take some good vibes with her to the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The world No. 1 shrugged off a two-month slump that included missed cuts and poor finishes to score her first sub-par round since June, a 5-under 67 on Saturday. A double-bogey on 11 on Sunday knocked her out of contention and led to a final-round 73 and an 11th-place finish.
“I was nervous,” Tseng said about entering the last day tied for fifth. “I was like, ‘Geez, I haven't been here for a long time.’ Like yesterday, my tee time was 1:40. I was like ‘Wow, that's late. How should I organize my time?’”