SINGAPORE: Former winner Ai Miyazato pulled out of the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore on Wednesday as she battles whiplash injuries from a car crash which also left American star Paula Creamer struggling to recover.
The Japanese world number nine said she had stiffness in her neck, back and shoulders after Sunday's five-car pile-up in Bangkok as the players were en route to the airport following the Honda LPGA Thailand.
"I still have some stiffness in my neck, shoulder, and back area but it is also a precautionary measure so as not to risk further injury this early in the season," the 2010 champion said in a statement, adding that she was "very disappointed".
"I now plan to return to Japan to see my trainer for a few days."
Creamer also cut short her appearance in Wednesday's pro-am to seek extra treatment for similar injuries. But the American, who earlier said it was "pretty amazing how we walked away", tweeted that she hoped to tee-off on Thursday.
World number one Tseng Yani heads a field featuring most of the globe's best players at the $1.4 million event, considered the most prestigious women's golf tournament in Asia.
The "Pride of Taiwan", winless for nearly a year, has started the season with back-to-back top-three finishes, and she insisted staying at number one was not her main concern.
"World number one is not as important as before now," said the 24-year-old.
"I've already reached (there), and I've been there before. I'm still here, but I just want to enjoy (myself) more. Because I know if I'm not looking at the result, I just want to play the golf and enjoy every swing and enjoy every tournament."
Tseng admitted she had burdened herself with "too much expectation" last season when a run of missed cuts, which contrasted with her seven titles in 2011, left her struggling emotionally.
"I think I put too much expectation on myself. I think people, the fans and the media, they give lots of pressure. You know, if I don't finish top 10, I'm in trouble, like 'What's wrong with Yani?'"
Tseng now has a slim 1.35 average points lead over South Korea's Choi Na-Yeon, who will also tee it up on Thursday on Sentosa, a wealthy resort island in tropical Singapore.
Missing from the field is 25th-ranked New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko, 15, who has become the most talked-about player on tour after winning last year's Canadian Women's Open and coming close at the season-opener in Australia.
Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn, 17, will hope to make up for her heart-breaking triple bogey on the final hole which cost her victory and left her in tears at last week's event in Pattaya.
Former teen prodigy Michelle Wie, currently ranked 73rd and playing on a sponsor's invite, and defending champion Angela Stanford will also contest a tournament whose other previous winners include Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb. -AFP