Last year's winner, Maria Hjorth, is making the trek back to the island to defend her title. In 1999 Maria Hjorth was forced to compete in the first round of the Mizuno Classic using a borrowed set of clubs after the airline was unable to locate hers. She went on to shoot a 70 (-2) during that round.
Hjorth's clubs were located and delivered to her in time for second round play where she proceeded to set a new tournament record by posting scores of 64 (-8) and 67 (-5) for a three day total of 201 (-15).
Hjorth, a rookie in 1998, had a good year in 1999. She recorded wins at the SAFECO Classic and the Mizuno Classic, as well as posting five other top-10 finishes.
In addition to Hjorth, 43 other LGPA Tour players will travel to the sleepy little resort town of Seta located an hour's drive from Osaka. Those making the journey will find beautiful vistas amongst the rolling hills. The area, just a short drive from Kyoto, is best known for 'onsen' - the Japanese hot springs that abound in the area.
The Sorenstam sisters, Annika and Charlotta, were both scheduled to remain on the island after competing in the CISCO WORLD LADIES CHALLENGE. But Annika, unsuccessful in her efforts to captain the LPGA team into victory at last week's team match-play event, withdrew from this week's competition for reasons unknown. Younger sister Charlotta will be the only Sorenstam to try her luck this year on the 6,423-yard, par 72 Seta Golf Course located near the largest lake in west Japan - Lake Biwa.
Other LPGA players competing in this week's three-day competition are Sophie Gustafson, Rachel Hetherington, and Grace Park. In the field and celebrating birthday's this week are Michelle Estill (Nov. 1) and Fiona Pike (Nov. 4). Among those not making the journey is Laura Davies who finished second last year.
Alicia Dibos withdrew from competition along with Cristie Kerr.
The first round of the Mizuno Classic gets underway Friday. There is no television coverage so be sure to check back with thegolfchannel.com for daily updates on all the action.