Stacy Lewis is the defending champion this week at the Mizuno Classic in Japan. She rallied from a seven-shot deficit last year to shoot a final-round eight-under 64 and win by a single stroke.
Lewis was named LPGA Player of the Year at the end of the 2012 season and has continued her outstanding play in 2013.
She has three wins this year and captured her second major title at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in August. More amazingly, she has 16 top-10 finishes in 23 starts thus far in 2013 and leads the tour in scoring average with 69.54 strokes per round.
Park and Pettersen are both absent this week from the Mizuno Classic. This should be an excellent opportunity for Lewis to gain ground on both players.
Former Mizuno Classic champions Jiyai Shin and Karrie Webb are in the field this week.
Shin won the Mizuno Classic in 2008 and again in 2010. Her last win came at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February, and she is ranked No. 13 in the world.
Webb won the 2006 Mizuno Classic. She is ranked No. 8 on the Rolex Rankings and has 39 career LPGA Tour victories. Her last win came in June at the 2013 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
The Mizuno Classic has been held every year since 1973. Annika Sorenstam won this event five consecutive years from 2001 to 2005. It offers a total purse of $1.2 million, with $180,000 going to the winner.
Moriya Jutanugarn trails Caroline Masson by just a few points in the race for LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors. Both are in the field this week, and a high finish by one player could solidify her chances of winning the prestigious award.
Only one event remains on the LPGA Tour regular-season schedule after the Mizuno Classic. The Lorena Ochoa Invitational will be held in Mexico next week.
These final two events offer players who have not previously qualified for the season-ending CME Titleholders an opportunity to grab one of the last six spots in that $2 million event in Naples, Fla., November 21-24.