Sports Outside the Beltway

Another winless year for Ai Miyazato

Going into the 2006 LPGA year, Japan’s Ai Miyazato and Morgan Pressel got most of the mention when it came to who would be rookie of the year. As I noted earlier today, Seon Hwa Lee upstaged both Pressel and Miyazato. I never understood why Seon Hwa flew under golf writer’s radar screens. She was only the leading money winner on the Futures tour money list in 2005.

Pressel, Lee, and Miyazato all missed the cut today. Ai had one of today’s biggest turnarounds. She was -3 through 12 holes and then proceeded to play the last six holes in five over par. A double bogey five on the 17th eliminating Ai from contention.

Note- I saw some of Ai’s round today. She seems popular in the US, for today there was a big gallery following Ai and her playing partner. The other player was Natalie Gulbis. None of those golf fans were there to see golf’s calendar girl, right?

Ai has been tremendously successful in her native Japan. She won 11 JLPGA events in 2004 and 2005 alone. It just hasn’t translated into LPGA success yet. Fellow countrywoman Momoko Ueda managed to upstate Ai, but winning the Mizuno Classic just two weeks ago.

The last great Japanese golfer on the LPGA was Ayako Okamoto. There’s been a gap since, but I think Ai will reach the winner’s circle in 2008. I hope this prediction is better than my 2007 Women’s British Open prediction. Or why those fans were following Ai and Natalie today.

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