Ueda shoots 66 for 2-stroke victory in Mizuno Classic

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SHIMA, Japan - Momoko Ueda decided to focus on her game instead of waiting for other players to stumble.

Japanese Momoko Ueda wears a big smile as she proudly shows off her trophy after winning the Mizuno Classic at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club at Shima, central Japan, on Sunday November 4, 2007.  Ueda, Japan LPGA money rankings leader, made an albatross on the seventh hole in firing a final-round 66 en route to her a two-shot victory at the $1.4 million event, sanctioned by both the U.S. and Japan LPGA tours.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Japanese Momoko Ueda wears a big smile as she proudly shows off her trophy after winning the Mizuno Classic at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club at Shima, central Japan, on Sunday November 4, 2007. Ueda, Japan LPGA money rankings leader, made an albatross on the seventh hole in firing a final-round 66 en route to her a two-shot victory at the $1.4 million event, sanctioned by both the U.S. and Japan LPGA tours.

It paid off Sunday when she became the first Japanese player to win the Mizuno Classic with a 5-under 66 that included a double-eagle. She held off American Reilley Rankin and Sweden's Maria Hjorth to win by two strokes.

"I used to wish for (the) other player to make a mistake. When I was thinking like that, I got nervous whenever they made a good shot," said Ueda, who finished at 13-under 203 in the 54-hole tournament to earn $210,000 for her first LPGA Tour victory. "My coach told me to concentrate, instead, on my game and not worry about my opponent.

"Today I was continuously thinking about playing good and switched my feeling and I was concentrated like never before. I felt that is how top players might be playing."

Hiromi Kobayashi was the last Japanese player to win the Mizuno, taking the 1998 tournament at Musashigaoka.

Ueda came into the final round at the Kinetsu Kashikojima Country Club course tied for the lead with Britain's Laura Davies and took command at No. 7 with the double-eagle, the 28th in LPGA Tour history.

"I could not believe it on the seventh hole," Ueda said. "Whenever I make eagles, my heart beats fast, though I switched and was already thinking about the eighth hole."

Rankin and Hjorth, the 1999 champion, closed with 67s.

"We both played well out there today," Hjorth said. "(Ueda) made the double-eagle out there, which all of a sudden, I'm two shots behind."

Rankin had six birdies against one bogey.

"I gave myself a lot of opportunities," she said. "I don't feel like I lost the tournament; I feel like I made a lot of progress. It was a good experience overall, I learned a lot. I guess that's probably the closest I've been in contention when it comes down to the last day."

Shinobu Moromizato (67) was fourth at 8 under. Davies shot a 72 to tie for fifth at 7 under with Mi Hyun Kim (71), Chie Arimura (70) and Mie Nakata (71).

Davies couldn't recover after being penalized two strokes in the second round for putting from the wrong spot on the 14th hole. She forgot to return her ball to its original spot after moving her mark because it was in a competitor's line.

Japanese star Ai Miyazato continued to struggle, closing with a 75 to finish in a tie for 68th at 8-over 224.


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