KARUIZAWA, Japan -- American teenager Paula Creamer shot a
4-under 68 Sunday to hold off Ai Miyazato -- Japan's most popular
player -- to win the NEC Karuizawa tournament.
Creamer, who turned 19 earlier this month, finished at 19-under
197, three strokes ahead of Miyazato, who shot a 69.
"I feel great," said Creamer, who carded four birdies in her
third straight bogey-free round. "I knew I had to play good golf
coming down the stretch. I knew if I just stayed patient and kept
giving myself birdie looks everything would be OK."
Miyazato, who turned 20 in June, won five titles last year when
she made her debut on the Japan tour. She played in four overseas
events during a two-month absence from the Japan this year,
including the U.S. Women's Open and the Women's British Open.
"The biggest difference between Creamer and I today was the
putting," Miyazato said. "I feel there's still a big gap between
myself and the world's top players."
Creamer put together consecutive birdies on the par-3 No. 8 when
her tee shot landed one foot from the hole. Her fourth birdie of
the day came on No. 16 when her chip shot from the greenside rough
landed inches from the cup.
Creamer was making her first appearance in a Japanese LPGA tour
event after winning twice on the LPGA Tour this year. She became
the second-youngest first-time winner in tour history -- and the
youngest winner of a full event -- when she captured the Sybase
Classic by one stroke in May. She also won the Evian Masters in
Despite graduating from high school only three months ago,
Creamer is second on the LPGA money list behind Annika Sorenstam.
Shiho Oyama, playing in the same group as Creamer and Miyazato,
also fired a 69 to finish third at 15-under 201. Defending champion
Rui Kitada was tied for 10th at 9-under 207.