Miyazato wins for third time this year
By STEPHEN WADE
MORELIA, Mexico — Ai Miyazato was fine moments after her third LPGA Tour title of the season. She only started to tear up when she began talking about Lorena Ochoa.
Miyazato shot a 6-under 67 yesterday to win the Tres Marias Championship, but was overshadowed by Ochoa's last round before stepping into retirement to raise a family and focus on her charity foundation.
During the trophy ceremony on the 18th green, Miyazato broke down crying as she thanked Ochoa. Ochoa, a few feet away, also rubbed tears from her eyes in bright sunlight on the mountainside course. Ochoa chose Miyazato as her playing partner for the first two rounds.
"I want to say thanks to Lorena," Miyazato said. "I really appreciate what she did for the LPGA and what she did for her country here in Mexico."
"She is one of my best friends," Miyazato said, beginning to cry. "I'm going to miss her."
Miyazato, the 24-year-old Japanese star who swept the season-opening events in Thailand and Singapore after winning the Evian Masters last year in France for her first LPGA Tour title, finished at 19-under 273.
Stacy Lewis (66) was a stroke back, and Honolulu's Michelle Wie (68) was third at 17 under.
Wie started the day a shot behind Miyazato but climbed into the lead — one shot ahead of Miyazato and Lewis — with an eagle on the par-4 ninth. Wie was 17 under, two strokes ahead of Miyazato and Lewis, but took a costly double-bogey at the par-3 13th.
Wie rebounded with birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, but missed a 2-foot par putt on No. 17 to fall from contention. She closed with a birdie on the 18th.
Ochoa, the tournament winner three of the last four years, shot a 71 to finish sixth at 12 under.
Ochoa has held the No. 1 ranking since April 2007. LPGA projections show she will lose it when the rankings come out today, with Jiyai Shin taking over. Shin won in Japan yesterday. Ochoa is likely to drop to No. 2, with Miyazato moving to No. 3.
Michelle Ellis, president of the LPGA players' association, was one of several people who saluted Ochoa on the 18th green.
"She is going to be dearly missed by the players and all members of the LPGA family," Ellis said. "I think her heart and her spirit out does her golf game by 1,000 yards."
Ochoa won 27 tournaments, including two majors, and won the Player of the Year title four straight years.
"For the last eight years all of you have been there," Ochoa said, sobbing as she spoke to fellow players. "First when I got here everybody was friendly and welcoming. So thanks for being friends, for the inspiration. It is hard to put into words, but this has been eight years of a lot of fun and I made friends I will never forget in my life."