It’s amazing. One of the biggest events on the LPGA of Japan tour card, and I can barely find a whisper of it in the mainstream media. A shame, really.
So, starting tomorrow the Mizuno Classic begins (Nov 2nd – 4th). This year, it will be held at the luxurious Kashikojima Country Club near the city of Shima, in Mie prefecture (just south of Nagoya). With a purse of US$1.4 million ($210,000 for the winner), it’s a pretty lucrative tournament, and is the only LPGA of Japan event to be co-sanctioned by the LPGA.
So… who’ll be there? Last year, Karrie Webb of Australia won the event, and she’s returning to defend her title against a field of 77 other golfers, fairly evenly split between LPGA & JLPGA members. Leading challengers to take that title from Webb are Jeong Jang (South Korea), Laura Davies (England), Mi Hyun Kim (South Korea) and Sophie Gustafson (Sweden). Local challenges will come from Momoko Ueda, and Japanese golden girl Ai Miyazato.
I think that a local can win this, Miyazato has been in very good form this year, and has had 6 top ten finishes this year already. After only playing 2 years on the LPGA tour, she’s amassed a hefty US$1.3+ million. Girl can play, and on her home turf with a massive following, she could be the one worth watching.
For those that like a bit of a gamble, the odds are pretty long on her at the moment – many sportsbetting sites have her at 100/1.
Still, I guess my tip of the local girls for the tournament would be Shinobu Moromizato…
It’s disappointing that Michelle Wie doesn’t play in a tournament like this, rather than still pursuing the Men’s events (recently she withdrew from the Casio Men’s Open here in Japan). This is exactly the type of tournament she could thrive in, with not all of the big-name LPGA stars competing here, and her good looks would ensure she gets plenty of positive media coverage. No-one loves ‘cute’ more than Japan.
More updates as the tournament progresses…