The LPGA’s back in action this week with the conclusion of the tour’s fall Asian swing.
American Stacy Lewis leads the field at the Mizuno Classic in Japan in the third to last event of the 2013 season. The tour heads to Mexico for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational next week and then to Naples, Fla., for the season-finale CME Group Titleholders the week after that.
Lewis is the defending champion this week. She was the first American in almost 20 years to win the Mizuno Classic, a tournament co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the LPGA of Japan Tour. Betsy King was the last American before Lewis to win this event in 1993.
At No. 3 in the Rolex women’s world rankings, Lewis is the only player among the LPGA’s “Big Three” scheduled to play when the 54-hole event begins Friday in Japan. No. 1 Inbee Park and No. 2 Suzann Pettersen are scheduled to return to action next week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Lewis is committed to all three of the year’s remaining events. She’s one of five players among the top 10 in the world scheduled to play at Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club this week with No. 4 So Yeon Ryu, No. 7 Shanshan Feng, No. 8 Karrie Webb and No. 10 Catriona Matthew also playing.
Lewis is seeking her fourth LPGA title of 2013, which would equal her win total from a year ago, when she became the first American in 18 years to win the Rolex Player of the Year award. After making top-10 finishes in the first two events of this fall’s Asian swing, Lewis is coming off a three-week break.
“You just try to be fresh,” Lewis said. “I’m not playing all the Asia tournaments just because I want to be fresh when I am playing, and I want to play good and have a chance to win. So it’s about managing your energy level at the end of the season because everyone is tired, everybody is ready for the off season.”
Park, Pettersen and Lewis have teamed to dominate LPGA events this year. They’ve won 13 of the 25 events played. They’ve won all the majors. They’re 1-2-3 in the world rankings.
They’re 1-2-3 in Player of the Year points, money winnings and scoring average.
A year ago, Lewis wrapped up the Rolex Player of the Year award winning in Japan. She came from seven shots down in the final round to win. She’s a long shot to win the Rolex POY award this year. She would have to win the final three events just to have a chance. Park leads the Rolex POY race with 290 points. Pettersen is next with 252. Lewis is third with 200. There are 30 points available to this week’s winner, 30 at the Lorena Invitational next week and 30 at the CME Group Titleholders.
Lewis, though, is very much alive in trying to become the first American in 19 years to win the Vare Trophy, the award for the LPGA’s low scoring average. Lewis leads the tour in scoring this season with a 69.53 average. Suzann Pettersen is next with a 69.59 average and Inbee Park is third at 69.93.
The LPGA will present all its season-ending prizes at its Rolex Awards Celebration on Nov. 22 at the Ritz Carlton Resort during the CME Group Titleholders.