Ai Miyazato Captures Championship in Dramatic Fashion
Rolex World Rankings No. 6 Ai Miyazato (68+68+65 = 201) won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G in a tightly contested battle on the final day at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers. The win marked her second of the year and will earn her $300,000 to add to her career earnings, totaling $6,749,255.75.
After beginning the day five shots back from two-day leader Veronica Felibert, Ai Miyazato put together a string of four birdies on the front nine to put herself into title contention. Following the turn, two birdies gave her a share of the lead with Mika Miyazato, a friend and fellow native of Okinawa, Japan.
A bogey on the par-3 17th pushed her one shot back heading into the final hole, a similar position she was in last year. “It kind of made me flashback that I, you know, that I can’t make a par on that hole before the tee shot, so it wasn’t really feel good,” said Ai Miyazato. “But like I said to myself, you know, just one bogey so far during the round, so I think that’s pretty good. I was like, I’ll take it. Then if I made birdie, I thought I still have a chance to get in a playoff.”
A playoff proved unnecessary, as Ai Miyazato hit her third shot on 18 to about four feet and drained the putt to move to 12-under while Mika Miyazato, who had also been 12-under missed a six-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff. With this year marking her fifth trip to Arkansas, Ai Miyazato felt the community presence as she worked towards her victory. “It’s always nice to be here,” she said. “It’s always fun to play this tournament because I know there’s so many golf fans over here, so the spectators are always great and all the volunteers always do things for the players and they do a great job.”
The victory in Rogers is the second for Ai Miyazato this year as she won the LPGA LOTTE Championship in April. The win will move her to No. 3 in the Rolex World Rankings, three spots up from where she was prior to this week.
Crowd favorite and former Arkansas Razorback Stacy Lewis finished T-19 at 1 under but enjoyed a memorable week in Arkansas. “I love playing here. It doesn’t matter what I shoot and they’re cheering for me,” Lewis said. “I think I tapped in for a bogey and everybody thought I would have made birdie. So it’s a special week for me and it’s a lot of fun.”