Inkster was the first player to win the tournament in 1986 and has played every year since then, usually placing near the top of the leaderboard.
Alongside Inkster, Cristie Kerr will try to defend her title. Last year, Kerr pulled past then-amateur Paula Creamer and Giulia Sergas by one stroke, as she drained a nine-foot birdie putt on 18 to claim the title. Kerr already has one victory in the bag this year. She won the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill last month for her fifth-career victory and first where Annika Sorenstam was in the field. Kerr has six top-three finishes this year, is the top-ranked American and is second behind Sorenstam on the ADT Official Money List.
Speaking of Sorenstam, she returns to the Bay Course at the Seaview Marriott and Spa after not playing the event in 2004. Sorenstam won the tournament in 1998 when she set a tournament record 17-under-par and then repeated as champion in 2002. This year, Sorenstam is enjoying one of the best seasons in professional golf history. She has competed in six events, winning four of them and has already surpassed the $1 million mark in season earnings, making her the fastest woman in LPGA Tour history to earn more than $1 million in season earnings.
Inkster, Kerr and Sorenstam are not the only past champions competing this week, as Betsy King, Michelle McGann, Janice Moodie, Se Ri Pak and Angela Stanford are all in the field.
Also lurking in the shadows from last year is Creamer, the 18-year-old rookie who burst onto the scene two weeks ago becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner at the Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury. This is Creamers first event since the win and she could not have asked for a better place to make her encore performance, as she tied for second last year off a sponsor exemption.
Since the start of this tournament in 1986, the tournament has played host to great shots, low scores and exciting finishes. Three players in the field'Pak, Maria Hjorth and Pat Hurst'all share the tournament record of 63 (-8) and two players, Moodie and Stanford, became Rolex First-Time Winners in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
Inkster at Shoprite
The ShopRite LPGA Classic is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. Through the years, hundreds of players have come to the Atlantic City area for the tournament, but few have compiled an impressive record like LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster. She has played in every ShopRite LPGA Classic and the statistics she has compiled at the event are more than impressive considering she also had two children during the span.
Top-5 finishes: 10
Top-5 finishes since 1997: 7
Top-10 finishes: 12
Score in relation to par: -51
Stroke average: 69.98
Total earnings: $622,999