Miyazato looks to extend streak at Evian Masters

Ai Miyazato starts her bid for a third win in four years at the Evian Masters in France on Thursday -- and the Japanese player is also chasing a third victory of a successful season.

"It's always great to come back here," said the 27-year-old, who currently heads the LPGA money list with $1,059,331. "Winning last year was huge for me. It was my only win of the season and my first after the terrible earthquake in Japan that really affected me.

"This year has been good. I've already won twice and feeling very confident about my game. Evian has so many good memories for me. It's just the best place. So beautiful and it's the perfect venue for golf tournament, so it's always fun to stay here."

Miyazato won the Lotte Championships in Hawaii in April and the Arkansas Open at the very start of this month and is now ranked No.4 in the world behind Yani Tseng of Taiwan, Na Yeon Choi of South Korea and Stacy Lewis of the US, who was the runner-up at Evian last year.

With a 2.5-million-euro prize purse, the tournament is the richest on the women's LPGA and Ladies' European Tours.

Swede Helen Alfredsson is the only player to have won the title three times in its 19-year history. Sweden's Annika Sorenstam and England's Laura Davies are also two-time winners.

Tseng, who already has five majors at the age of just 23, has won three tournaments this season. She had a superb run with three wins from four starts in February and March.

But she finished 50th in the US Women's Open -- the most recent tournament on the circuit -- and missed her first cut of the season in Arkansas the previous week.

"I'm feeling good," said Tseng, who has been the dominant force in the women's game for the past few seasons. "I always love coming to Evian and the course is longer than before, which suits my game."

Choi won the US Women's Open three weeks ago has come close at Evian. She lost to Alfredsson in a three-way play-off in 2008 and was joint second behind Jiyai Shin two years ago.

"This is always one of my favourite places and I feel so good after my US Open win," said Choi.

Next year, the Evian Masters will create history when it becomes the fifth major on the women's Tour, joining the US and British Women's Opens and the LPGA and Kraft Nabisco Championships.

"The fifth major is definitely huge for women's golf," said Miyazato. "It's going to be exciting. This tournament is already great but, becoming a major, that's just fantastic.

"Everyone feels the same way. The golf course is already undergoing changes and the atmosphere is going to be great. It's going to be definitely good for everyone, so I'm already looking forward to playing next year."

There are six French players in the field -- Karine Icher, Caroline Afonso, Anne-Lise Caudal, Sophie Giquel-Bettan, Jade Schaeffer and the former Solheim Cup player Gwladys Nocera.

"It is always nice to be back at Evian and I have played here many times," said Icher. "It is exciting to think it is going to be a major next year."

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