. . . it’s about managing your energy level at the end of the season because everyone is tired, everybody is ready for the off season . . .
Lewis claimed the 2012 Mizuno title by a single stroke in a final round surge when she overcame a 7-shot deficit to defeat JLPGA standout Bo-Mee Lee. The 2012 Mizuno was Lewis’s 4th win of the 2012 season and helped nail down the Rolex Player of the Year Award last year.
I expect Rolex Ranked #3 Lewis to play for the win this weekend. She played the first 2 events of the LPGA Asia loop in October, the Reignwood LPGA Classic in China and the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, and despite a disappointing loss to Shanshan Feng at the Reignwood that came from a bad shot that took a lucky bounce, Lewis played well in both events. She placed 2nd at the Reignwood and finished in a tie for 6th place at the Sime Darby. Can she carry that momentum forward after a break in routine?
Lewis currently leads the LPGA Tour in top-10s with 16 which include three victories and a major championship win at the RICOH Women’s British Open in August. But it’s been a year of ups and downs for the Texan. Korean Inbee Park edged her out of the top Rolex Rank last spring and then Norwegian Suzann Pettersen bumped her from the #2 spot last month. After a lackluster performance at the Solheim Cup in early August Lewis claimed emotional exhaustion and withdrew from the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
Despite her tendency to be very hard on herself when she doesn’t meet her performance standards, Lewis expects to be ready to fend off a field of challengers at the Mizuno that will likely be led by Rolex Ranked #8 Karrie Webb and #13 Jiyai Shin, both past Mizuno champs who would like to take back the tournament themselves.
With neither Park nor Pettersen playing in the Mizuno, Lewis is the top-ranked contender as well as the defending champion. However, Karrie Webb, a 17-year veteran on the LPGA Tour and a quintessential world-class athlete who maintains a laser-like focus and an unshakable professional demeanor, always plays a relentless game.
Webb’s 39th career victory came this year at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer in June. Webb, like Lewis, played in the Reignwood and the Sime Darby, but then took a break and is coming in to the Mizuno rested and ready. There’s no doubt that Webb would like to put the Mizuno in her win column and make it her 40th career win.
Karrie Webb is not the only challenger on the horizon. The Mizuno Classic will be a homecoming of sorts for 3 Japanese players, LPGA Tour Rookie Ayako Uehara, two-year member Haru Nomura and Rolex Ranked No. 20 Mika Miyazato. Miyazato has posted four top-20 finishes at the Mizuno Classic in her five-year LPGA Tour career and is as much a threat to Lewis as Karrie Webb.
And there’s likely to be some extra effort on the part of a number of LPGA of Japan players at the Mizuno that could make for some exciting clutch shots. This is the last opportunity for 32 JLPGA players to qualify for the CME Group Titleholders, the final event of the LPGA 2013 season.
The 54-hole, limited field event is made up of 43 LPGA Tour players and 35 members of the LPGA of Japan. In the 41st edition of the Mizuno Classic, the 78-players will vie for a $1.2 million purse and a $180,000 first-place check. For some, the opportunity to play in the Titleholders next month is an additional incentive.