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LPGA's Japanese golfers helping raise money and hope

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Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato (no relation) and Momoko Ueda are Japanese natives playing golf this week at the LPGA Kia Classic at the Industry Hills Golf Club in the City of Industry. They have a job to do, playing golf, and so they are trying to keep their attention focused on the course even as they check the Internet constantly for news from home about earthquakes and the tsunami.

Ai Miyazato went to high school near Sendai, the Japanese city hit hardest by the tsunami. Ueda said she was in Tokyo on a freeway. "I literally felt the ground shake," she said. Mika Miyazato said that as she saw the tragedies unfold she wanted to do something for the country and discussed with Ai  Miyazato and Ueda what they could do.

The three helped design a special logo that is on their golf hats. It is in Japanese and Ai Miyazato said it means "Never give up." There is also a Facebook page, and the three are asking other players to put the special logo on caps.

It was Ai Miyazato who came up with the idea of the logo. Ueda said all three players are happy to be able to do something for their country. "By doing it together," Ueda said, "we could have a bigger influence."

Ueda said that her initial reaction to the devastation was  speechlessness. "I also feel sad," Ueda said, "but feeling just sad can't move us forward in the right direction. With golf, hopefully, I can provide smiles to as many people as possible."

 "People in Japan are feeling tough emotions," Mika Miyazato said. "I didn't even know if coming to the U.S. was the right decision. But I feel that I want people to get back to their normal lives and live their normal lives as soon as possible. It's difficult [to concentrate on golf] right now. But I feel that it is one of my responsibilities as a professional golfer to go out and play and hopefully be able to provide hope and courage to the Japanese people."

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-- Diane Pucin

 Photo: Golfers pose with pins to promote raising funds for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on March 22 at the Industry Hills Golf Club. Credit: Scott Halleran / Getty Images.

 
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