Forty-seven of Top 50 in Field at Wegmans

By Associated PressJune 20, 2007, 4:00 pm
LPGA logo for LeaderboardsPITTSFORD, N.Y. -- After five winless years on the LPGA Tour, Jeong Jang's breakthrough came at the 2005 Women's British Open -- at the expense of Annika Sorenstam.
It was a career-altering triumph for 'J.J.' Or so it seemed.
Jang felt more relaxed and willing to forgive herself when she faltered. But as tournaments came and went, exasperation set in, only to be dispelled last June when she won the Wegmans LPGA.
'Second win, I been waiting 10 months,' said the 27-year-old Jang on Wednesday ahead of her title defense at the tree-lined Locust Hill course in suburban Rochester. 'I feel like I could do it right away, but I have to wait. Feels like forever.'
The $1.8 million Wegmans LPGA has 47 of the top 50 money winners. The field Thursday includes top-ranked Lorena Ochoa, Suzann Pettersen and two-time champion Karrie Webb. Absent is Sorenstam, whose best finish in four tries was second in 1996.
Jang's wait for a third win is beginning to wear on her patience. 'Yes, yes, more than before,' she said, blaming her play around the greens.
Even after much off-season practice, she said in halting English, 'I don't know what happen with my putting. Missed a couple short putts beginning of the season and losing confidence. Kind of scared.'
Jang's win at Royal Birkdale at the Women's Open spoiled Sorenstam's bid to win her third major in 2005. Jang led the championship nearly from start to finish, and ended the year with 15 top-10 finishes and a tour-leading 331 birdies.
Last year, she followed up with 14 top-10s and season-best earnings of $1.15 million. Jang passed the $4 million mark in career prize money in February, but has picked up only $214,475 in 12 starts this year. Her only top-10 was a tie for third at the Safeway International in March.
She's got tough competition from other South Koreans -- who make up 45 of the 117 non-Americans in the LPGA ranks.
Jang will also tee up this weekend against Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Juli Inkster, Brittany Lincicome, Natalie Gulbis and 50-year-old Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, who is playing a limited schedule this year.
The South Korean standard bearer is still Se Ri Pak, a 23-time winner who qualified for the Hall of Fame two weeks ago. Nine Koreans won 11 tournaments in 2006, and two have won so far this year: Mi Hyun Kim earned her eighth title at the SemGroup Championship and Young Kim got a breakthrough win at the LPGA Corning Classic.
Jang is well aware of the talent back home.
'I have to play two tournaments in Korea every year,' she said. 'I play with a lot of young players. Every year I go there I'm kind of shock(ed). They hit so far and they're really strong. They're getting better and better.'
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