The victory was the second of the 2003 season for the LPGA's 2001 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and helped propel her to a fourth-place finish on the 2003 ADT Official Money list with more than $1.1 million in earnings.
This year, Han will have her hands full, as she defends her title against Ward, the event's 2001 winner, and a host of other LPGA stars. Among those are 2004 tournament champions Meg Mallon, a three-time 2004 winner, two-time winner Cristie Kerr, as well as Moira Dunn, Lorena Ochoa, Grace Park, Jennifer Rosales, Kim Saiki and Karrie Webb.
In addition, 2002 Wendy's Championship for Children winner Mi Hyun Kim and 2000 champion Lorie Kane are also teeing it up at Tartan Fields Golf Club.
LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame members JoAnne Carner and Betsy King are also competing.
Nineteen-year-old Shi Hyun Ahn and 18-year-old Aree Song, who are locked in a tight battle for the 2004 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, are also competing in the $1.1 million event. Ahn, with 562 points, holds a slim 18-point advantage over Song with seven events remaining.
Speaking of teenagers, a pair of amateur phenoms are competing in the 54-hole event via sponsor exemptions. Michelle Wie, 14, and Paula Creamer, 17, both of whom have top-five finishes on the LPGA Tour in 2004, are challenging Han for the title this week.
Last year, Han and Ward finished three rounds of regulation knotted at 199 (-17), thanks to a final-round 66 (-6) by Han and a blistering final-round
63 (-9) by Ward. Ward had a chance to win the event outright in regulation, but missed a 7-footer for birdie on the closing hole.
The duo replayed the 18th hole first in sudden death and recorded pars. The tournament appeared to be Han's on the second extra hole when Ward's approach shot landed 35 feet from the cup and Han was within six feet. But Ward jarred the 35-footer and Han also birdied to force a third extra hole.
Han's tee shot on the third sudden-death hole landed 25 feet away, with Ward's coming to rest 20 feet from the cup. Han showed Ward she could make the long putts too, holing her 25-footer for birdie, and Ward was unable to convert her birdie try to extend the playoff.