There would be no finishing in 2nd place for Ai Miyazato in Hawaii. After playing bridesmaid to Yani Tseng at the 2012 Honda LPGA Thailand and 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Ai-sama finished with flare on the back 9 in round 4, claiming the 2012 LPGA Lotte Championship. For some time, it looked like it might be a down to the wire finish between Ai-sama, Azahara Munoz and Meena Lee. Azahara couldn’t recover from bogeys on 10 and 14. Although there were still holes left, it seemed as though mentally she would not win on this day. Still looking for her first LPGA victory, I think it is just a matter of time before Azahara gets that breakthrough victory.
Meena Lee was 10-under after 15 holes, but could not covert another birdie to put pressure of Ai-sama. Instead, Meena ended her round with a crushing double bogey on 18. At 12-under, Miyazato earns her first LPGA win of 2012 and her 8th LPGA win overall. When asked who can step up as a rival to Yani Tseng, many speak of Suzann Pettersen. Suzann is talented, but to me younger players like Ai-sama and Na Yeon Choi might have longer term chances to compete with Yani. Both Suzann and Ai have had 5 win seasons, but Miyazato’s (2010) is more recent than Pettersen’s (2007). In any case, it will be difficult for anybody to rival Yani if she continue’s to play as she has. Speaking of Yani, there was a bit of an injury scare at Lotte.
But today is a day to celebrate Ai-sama. And she deserves it. After a bogey on 12 dropped her to 9-under, she answered like a champion with birdies on 13, 15 and 17, highlighted with some clutch putting. She said her dad, who also coaches her, gave her some advice on a putting change. Whatever he told her, it sure worked. I guess father knows best!