Published: Thursday November 1, 2012 MYT 4:28:00 PM
Japan's Ueda to defend Mizuno Classic
SHIMA, Japan: Japan's Momoko Ueda will look to home advantage this week as she defends her title at the $1.2 million Mizuno Classic sanctioned by the LPGA Tour.
The tournament, now in its 40th year, will see a strong 79-player field compete for a top prize of $180,000 on the 6,506-yard, par 72 Kashikojima Country Club course, the last stop in the four-week Asia circuit.
For 26-year-old Ueda, who also won in 2007, it's a chance not only to build upon her fine record here but also thank her ever-present mother, whose birthday falls on the day after the final round.
"I want to show her that I'm able to play on the tour alone.
Hopefully, I can play dignified golf for three days. It will be great if it ends in victory," said the world number 72, who last year beat China's Feng Shanshan in a three-hole playoff.
"This definitely brings back a lot of memories, like the time I got to play with Annika (Sorenstam) and Karrie Webb. Playing with the world's best players, and from that I got to build myself up and it gave me great confidence.
"It's a great tournament and I'm glad to be back here again," added Ueda.
In-form Park In-Bee of South Korea, fresh from finishing runner-up to Suzann Pettersen at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship last weekend, will seek her second Asian title on this circuit to move higher in the Player of the Year standings.
"Earlier in the season I really didn't think about (Player of the Year) much, but it's almost the end of the season and only three tournaments to go," the world number four said.
"I think I have a good chance because I'm playing good and I have confidence. And these three tournaments - who knows what's going to happen? Just play tournament by tournament, shot by shot and see if I can go close."
Taiwan's world number one, Yani Tseng, meanwhile, will be looking to end a winless streak which stretches back to March, after she finished third in her home tournament.
Only nine players remain in contention for the Player of the Year award.
Park's compatriot Shin Jiyai is eyeing her third title in Japan, following victories in 2008 and 2010, while American Stacy Lewis is hoping to hold onto her top spot in the Player of the Year standings. In the absence of Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato carries another local hope after winning her first title at the Safeway Classic this season.
"I'm always excited about this tournament, because this tournament is held in Japan. We play a lot of tournaments in the United States, so it's always exciting coming back to play in my home country," said Miyazato, 23.
"I'm sure that my Japanese fans would really enjoy it, and it will improve my golf level as well," she added.
The tournament will be held from November 2-4. -AFP