Ai Miyazato put the pressure on her lead chase pack early in the final round of the Evian Masters and, despite a few shaky swings down the stretch and a slightly-colder putter than she'd become accustomed to this week, held on for a 2-shot win over Stacy Lewis. Even though Ai-sama couldn't make it 4 rounds in the 60s in the end, her -15 total was good enough for her 2nd win in 3 years at Evian and 7th career LPGA victory. At the start of the year, I predicted that her game would once again become world-beating after some early struggles, but even I was surprised that she followed up her T6 at the U.S. Women's Open with a win this week. She's got some serious momentum heading into her favorite major, the Ricoh Women's British Open, next week. I'm hoping that she can keep on rolling, because she still has a long way to go to catch Ya Ni Tseng and Cristie Kerr in the Player of the Year race!
I'll have more on the final round itself soon, but the girls want to celebrate Ai-sama's win by playing outside now!
[Update 1 (6:06 pm): Nice post on Ai-sama's win by The Squire at Golf Babes! I have to say on further reflection that scoring conditions must have been tougher in the final round than I originally thought, as Anna Nordqvist and Amy Yang were the only players to shoot 67s, Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel, Melissa Reid, and Lexi Thompson 68s, and there were only 7 69s. Chella Choi had the low round of the day with a great 66. So Ai-sama's 70 was very solid. Yes, she was fortunate that In-Kyung Kim went from making 18 birdies in 41 holes ending with the 3rd today to 4 bogeys between the 6th and 13th holes, that Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford couldn't feed off each other's good play, that Miyazato's playing partner Ran Hong bogeyed 4 holes in a row after pulling within 1 of her lead, that Caroline Hedwall rode such a serious roller coaster, and that Mika Miyazato, Maria Hjorth, and Shin-Ae Ahn couldn't get anything going today. But like I said earlier, she put pressure on those chasing her and they didn't respond all that well. In the end, a win's a win, and this one was a big one for Ai-sama's confidence and momentum!]
[Update 2 (7:30 pm): For that matter, Ai-sama was fortunate that Ya Ni Tseng and Suzann Pettersen made as many big numbers as In-Kyung Kim. Here's a celebratory video from derr2000:
[Update 3 (7/25/11, 4:44 am): Great perspective and photos from bangkokbobby!]
[Update 4 (4:54 am): Wow, both bangkokbobby and LPGA.com make the Nadeshiko Japan connection! Finally, someone else with a firm grasp of the obvious like me! Still beyond the European media pool covering the event, though....]
[Update 5 (7/26/11, 7:22 am): Here's Hound Dog on Ai-sama's win and many other matters coming out of Evian!]