Monday, January 10, 2011

Ai Miyazato

Miyazato Ai was born in 19 June 1985. She is a Japanese professional golfer who currently competes on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour and the Japan LPGA Tour (JLPGA). She was the top-ranked golfer in the Women's World Golf Rankings for three periods of time in 2010. Miyazato was born in Higashi, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. As an amateur in 2003, she won a professional event on the Japan LPGA Tour – the Dunlop Ladies Open in Miyagi Prefecture, where she was attending high school at the time. In her 2004 rookie season on the JLPGA Tour she won five tournaments. In February 2005, she represented Japan along with Rui Kitada winning the inaugural Women's World Cup of Golf. In 2005, she won six events on the JLPGA tour, and was the #2 ranked player on the JLPGA Tour behind Yuri Fudoh. In winning the Japan Open Championship at age 20 in 2005, Miyazato became the youngest player on the JLPGA Tour to win a major. Furthering the notion that Miyazato has revived the JLPGA Tour after the retirement of Ayako Okamoto, over 32,000 people, the largest gallery ever to attend a JLPGA event, witnessed the final day of that tournament.

She dominated the 2005 U.S. LPGA Q-School and secured her tour card, enabling her to compete in the 2006 season. She finished under par for four of the five qualifying rounds, and finished 12 strokes ahead of the closest competitor, setting a record for the largest margin of victory. Back in Japan, on December 15, she played the opening rounds of the Okinawa Open, becoming the first Japanese woman to compete in a domestic men's professional event, although she failed to make the cut for the final rounds. Miyazato earned her first LPGA Tour win at the 2009 Evian Masters, shooting 14-under par 274 to tie Sophie Gustafson who she then beat on the first playoff hole.In 2010, she won four of the first nine official tournaments on the LPGA Tour and on 21 June rose to number 1 in the Women's World Golf Rankings. She held the spot for only one week and was replaced by Christie Kerr who held the spot for three weeks, before Miyazato regained the spot again on 19 July, by a margin of 0.0006 average points.

“She is an extremely nice person who has always been very humble. I remember the first time I met her at the Bridgestone Golf R&D offices where she politely autographed a picture for me. Seems like that was just a few days ago that she didn’t have an LPGA tour title to her name, and now she is the #1 player in the world. What a great story that couldn’t happen to a nicer person.” Bronson was able to test Ai many times during his stint at Bridgestone where he developed enough of a relationship with her to keep contact with Ai in the past years since he left the company. There is nobody happier to see her succeed after so many years of testing, practice and dedication. All the best to Ai in the future and congratulations to all of her recent success. On 22 August 2010, Miyazato won for the fifth time in 2010 at the Safeway Classic with a two stroke victory over Christie Kerr and Na Yeon Choi. She regained the number 1 spot in the World Rankings, which had been briefly retaken by Kerr. She gave up the top spot again to Kerr on 25 October. She has endorsements deals with Suntory, Bridgestone Corporation, Japan Airlines, Oakley, Honda, Hisamitsu, Mitsubishi Electric & NTT Docomo. Her older brothers, Kiyoshi Miyazato and Yūsaku Miyazato are also professional golfers.

Ai Miyazato, a Bridgestone Sports' Tour Staff, took a place of the youngest queen of the Japan LPGA Championship, Konica Minolta Cup at Nidom Classic Nispa Course, Hokkaido, held between September 7th and 10th. This 13th title of Japanese tour in her career was marked on her first tournament after coming back from the States this season. The Followings are in the bag of Ai Miyazato at this tournament:
Ball: Tour Stage New X-01
Driver: Tour Stage New V-iQ (45.5) 9.5
Fairway Wood: Tour Stage F-HT+ (#3W and #5W)
Utility: Tour Stage F-UT U4, V-iQ U5
Irons: Tour Stage V-iQ Forged (#5 to PW)
Wedge: Tour Stage X-Wedge 2006ver. (PS and SW)
Bag: Tour Stage CBTS50/WR
Head Covers: Tour Stage HCTS60/WR
Shoes: Tour Stage Proto Type
Cap: Tour Stage CP480 Proto Type, CP551 Proto Type
Glove Tour Stage GLTS60 Proto Type
Wear: Paradiso

Ai Miyazato, known as Ai-chan earned her 2006 L.P.G.A. Tour card with a record 12-stroke victory over Libby Smith and Lee Ann Walker Cooper at the L.P.G.A.'s Qualifying School at the Legends Course in Daytona Beach, Florida. The L.P.G.A., enjoying an influx of young talent with global appeal, can now look at Miyazato as another potential star and as a future rival for Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Pressel. Miyazato is already a legend in Japan. She has several endorsements there, including one with Japan Airlines, and is a mainstay on television commercials. "Ai-chan was already famous when she was a junior," said Sonoko Funakoshi, a freelance golf journalist who works in the United States and covered Miyazato's victory Sunday. "Since Ai-chan, women's golf in Japan is expanding and expanding. It's bigger than men's golf."

Here is a funny story, Ai Miyazato was playing a U.S LPGA event this year as it started to rain. She had the Red Riding Hood cover on her two ball putter and the red started to run, by the end of the round her 2 balls originally white were now pink. Paula Creamer saw this and wanted one saying its the coolest 2 ball she has seen. Since then ComoCome has changed the soft innner area to rain resistant materials. Ai Miyazato, turned professional in 2004 and led the Japanese team to victory at the inaugural event in Fancourt this year with her partner Rui Kitada. Miyazato is currently ranked second on the Japanese LPGA money list, and boasts 14 top 10 finishes on the Japanese LPGA for this season, amongst which six of these were wins at the Vernal Ladies, Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open, New Caterpillar Mitsubishi Ladies, the Japan Women’s Open Championship, Higuchi Hisako IDC Otsuka Kagu Ladies, and the Daio Seishi Ellair Ladies Open. And Ai Miyazato not only earned her exempt card for the 2006 LPGA Tour, but she broke a 20-year-old qualifying tournament record with a 12-shot victory at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament at Daytona Beach, Florida USA, on Sunday.

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