Part Three of the LPGA Asian Swing is the Mizuno Classic, which is held at Kashikojima Country Club in Mie, Japan. Karrie Webb won last year’s event by four strokes, ending Annika Sorenstam’s five-year domination of this tournament. The 54-hole event gets underway Friday (Thursday evening EDT as Japan is 13 hours ahead of eastern U.S. time).
Kashikojima is a par-72 6506-yard course, which I could tell you a bit more about except that the official tournament site is in Japanese. No English translation available either, I’m afraid. This malady also affects the JLPGA website – makes it hard for us Yanks to gather any pertinent information. Sounds like they’re trying to build up some kind of home-field advantage to me. What I can tell you is this – the course played to an average score of 71.404 last year, making it the second-easiest layout of 2006. Only ShopRite played to a lower score and it was on a par-71 course, not 72.
Prior to the KOLON event in Korea, I was able to scan the recent results of the KLPGA to get an idea who from that Tour might be able to make a title run. No such luck here, with the local web info “coded” beyond my reckoning. I know Momoko Ueda and Shinobu Moromizato are good players while Shiho Oyama and Sakura Yokomine are the two JLPGA players in the Rolex Top 20. The LPGA contingent is a sparse one, scattered with players who attended the previous two Asian events. Surprisingly (given her great success here), Annika Sorenstam is not one of them.
No Ochoa, no Pettersen – SOMEBODY else is going to win this weekend! I say it will be Maria Hjorth, as she is on a five-event Top 20 run which started with her victory at Navistar. Sophie Gustafson and Karrie Webb are my CYA picks.
Stats: Winners 8-27 (11-27 with CYAs), Top Tens 42-79.