This week, Jones is aiming for her first victory of the 2002 season at the Sybase Big Apple Classic Presented by GOLF MAGAZINE at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Due to the strength of the field and the challenging golf course, this week's event is poised to be one of the premier events of the season. In addition, with just six events to go before the U.S. Solheim Cup team is selected, U.S.-born LPGA players are competing for valuable Solheim Cup points.
The 144-player field boasts six of the top 10 LPGA money winners for the season, including: top-ranked tour player and two-time Sybase Big Apple Classic champion Annika Sorenstam (1998, 2000). U.S. Women's Open champion Juli Inkster will be making her 11th career visit to the Sybase Big Apple Classic. The LPGA Tour Hall of Famer won the event in 1992.
Past champions participating in this year's event, along with Jones, Sorenstam and Inkster, include: LPGA Tour Hall of Famers Betsy King (1990-91) and Beth Daniel (1994); Hiromi Kobayashi (1993); Michele Redman (1997); and Sherri Steinhauer (1999).
Top players rounding out the field are rookie sensations Natalie Gulbis, Beth Bauer and Stephanie Keever, along with 2002 tour winners Karrie Webb, Laura Diaz, Rachel Teske and Janice Moodie.
In last year's event, Jones began the final round at 11-under par, three shots ahead of first- and second-round leader Nancy Scranton. A bogey on the first hole dropped Jones to 10-under par, but she moved to 12-under-par after birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.
Diaz, who started the day at 6-under-par, made the turn at nine-under-par and began her chase for the title. Diaz's birdies on the 11th and 15th holes put her within one of the lead. Jones, who bogeyed the 12th hole, held Diaz at bay with a birdie on the 15th hole, which took her back to 12-under-par, but Jones' lead dropped back to one stroke when she bogeyed the very next hole to go back to 11-under-par.
Diaz, who finished two groups ahead of Jones, put the pressure on Jones when she sank her nine-foot birdie putt on 18 to tie Jones for the lead at 11-under-par. Diaz had already recorded three second-place finishes in 2001 and was looking for her first LPGA Tour victory. Her hopes were short-lived. Jones' third shot on the 18th hole landed within three feet of the hole and she sank her final birdie putt for the win.
Kris Tschetter finished with a season-best, third-place finish. Redman finished fourth at 275 (-9), while Lorie Kane, Teske and Scranton finished tied for fifth at 276 (-8).