Miyazato looks to transfer her LPGA success back home at Mizuno Classic

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Having won 15 Japanese LPGA events, Ai Miyazato is hoping to capture her first Mizuno Classic crown in her homeland this weekend.
By
Associated Press

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Japanese star Ai Miyazato will be aiming to bring her success on the LPGA Tour home this weekend at the Mizuno Classic.

Miyazato has five LPGA Tour wins this season and has spent 11 weeks at No. 1 in the world rankings but has never won the Mizuno Classic, the LPGA Tour's lone tournament in Japan.

The 25-year-old Miyazato has had plenty of success in Japan, though, winning 15 Japanese LPGA events in addition to her six wins overseas, and is hoping that will translate to more success this weekend. But her last win in Japan was at the Sankyo Ladies open in October 2009.

And Miyazato will face a tough challenge from three South Korean golfers: Defending champion Bo Bae Song, current money rankings leader Na Yeon Choi and Jiya Shin, currently No. 1 in the LPGA Tour rankings.

Miyazato said the key to winning will be coping with typically strong breeze at the 6,506-yard par-72 Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club on the Shima peninsula.

"It all depends on the wind," Miyazato said. "The wind is so unpredictable here and will definitely affect my game."

Miyazato is in a tight race for the LPGA Tour's Player of the Year award. A win this week could get her one step closer to becoming the first player from Japan to claim the prize since Ayako Okamoto in 1987.

Choi is coming off a win last week at the Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, South Korea.

Shin, who won the Mizuno Classic in 2008, regained the top spot on the rankings by finishing in a share of fourth place last week at Incheon.

Song captured the 2009 title here with rounds of 68-65-68 to finish three strokes ahead of Lorena Ochoa, Hee-Young Park and Brittany Lang.

Only three players have successfully defended their titles in Mizuno Classic history. Betsy King won in 1992 and 1993, Woo-Soon Ko repeated in 1994 and 1995, and Annika Sorenstam won the event five consecutive times from 2001-2005.