The No. 1 player in the Rolex Rankings is the five-time defending champion of the event and has turned the Mizuno Classic into the Annika Classic. The 36-year-old has 69 career LPGA wins, but this is the event that she has dominated the most. In the past five years, she has displayed a mastery over her competition that is unparalleled in LPGA history.
Sorenstam also has a motivating factor working for her this week and that is her opportunity to record more LPGA history. No other player has won the same LPGA event six times, which is what is presented to Sorenstam this week. This is the second time in a month that Sorenstam has been presented with the rare opportunity to win the same event six times. She held a three-shot final-round lead over Lorena Ochoa at the Samsung World Championship, but was unable to seal the deal and watched Ochoa shoot 7-under-par 65 and deny her another LPGA record.
With history and motivation on her side, it seems likes Sorenstam has a record six-peat hanging on the lip of the cup about to fall, but there is a catch. All of those past Mizuno Classic heroics by Sorenstam came at Seta Golf Club (2002-05) and at Musashigaoka Country Club (2001), while this year's competition is being held at Kashikojima Country Club for the first time.
The new venue could be the great equalizer between Sorenstam and the other 77 players competing this week.
Two of those players have been Sorenstam's main adversaries over the years. Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak each beat Sorenstam to a major championship this year and are looking to end the year on a high note.
Webb, who is the last player not named Sorenstam to win the Rolex Player of the Year award (2001), is turning in her best season since she won seven events in 2000. Webb has four wins this year'including the Kraft Nabisco Championship'and has been one of the most consistent players on Tour, as her wins came in April, May, July and September. Webb has an additional seven top-10s this year and is third on the ADT Official Money List behind Sorenstam and money-leader Ochoa, who is not playing this week.
Pak won the McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola in a playoff against Webb to bounce back from her worst year on Tour. In 2005, Pak suffered from lingering injuries to her neck, shoulder, lower back and finger and earned only $62,628 in 12 events. This year, in addition to her one win, she has compiled six more top-10 finishes and has earned $862,479.
Another player to keep an eye on this week is Japanese superstar and LPGA rookie Ai Miyazato. Miyazato played in 19 LPGA events this year and notched a season-best tie for third at the McDonald's LPGA Championship. She finished fourth in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, but headed back to Japan after a fourth-place finish at the Wendy's Championship for Children and regained her winning touch. Miyazato, who won 11 events on the Japan LPGA (JLPGA) the last two years, has won two of the five JLPGA events she has competed in this year and is ready for that breakout LPGA win this week.