Kung scooped up her first career LPGA tournament win last year at the LPGA Takefuji Classic at The Las Vegas Country Club, and she would like nothing more than to hit the golfing jackpot again and go back-to-back at the $1.1 million event.
Las Vegas has a storied reputation of either making stars or breaking hearts. For Kung, it was the former, as the win served as a springboard to a breakout season. She parlayed her Vegas success into two additional Tour wins, emerging as one of the games future talents with a sixth-place finish on the 2003 season-ending ADT Official Money List.
The 54-hole event, which is played in the limelight of the world-famous Las Vegas strip, features 144 of the worlds best golfers. The stakes are high and the field is deep, but only one person will be crowned the big winner and walk away with the $165,000 winners check.
Grace Park, who picked up her first win in a major a little more than two weeks ago at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, certainly has to be considered one of the early favorites. She has competed in four events this year and has finished outside of the top three only once.
The precocious Aree Song, at 17 years old, is a rookie and the youngest player on Tour; she played last years LPGA Takefuji Classic as a sponsor exemption and finished tied for 44th. Her play this year has been impressive, as she was runner-up to Park at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and is currently fourth on the ADT Official Money List with $191,946.
A second-round 67 at this event last year could be a telling point of Songs chances this week.
Last year, Kung carded a 204 (-12) to hold off defending champion Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr and Soo-Yun Kang by two shots. She posted back-to-back 67s to lead after the first two rounds and then closed with a conservative 70, which included a three-putt bogey on 18. By that time, her lead was insurmountable and she became the first of four Rolex First-Time Winners in 2003.