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Miyazato hopeful of defending title

AFP-JIJI

Ai Miyazato is back to defend her crown at the LPGA Tour’s LOTTE Championship after beating Azahara Munoz and Meena Lee by four strokes to claim the inaugural title in 2012.

Miyazato birdied three of the final six holes to close with a two-under 70 and capture her eighth career LPGA Tour title in last year’s event. South Korea’s Lee and Spain’s Munoz shared second place.

The 144 players in the field this week will compete for $1.7 million in prize money with the winner collecting $225,000.

The LOTTE Championship was one of two titles for Miyazato in 2012.

This year she has three top-25 finishes, including second place at the Founders Cup last month.

Also in the field is newly crowned world No. 1 Park Inbee, who recently captured her second major title at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.