The $2.1 million Evian Masters is the first of two-straight events in Europe for the LPGA, as the Tour moves on to Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, July 31-Aug. 3, for the Weetabix Womens British Open, the fourth and final major championship of the season.
At this weeks Evian Masters, which awards $315,000 to the tournament champion, Sorenstam will face one of the most loaded fields of the season. She is 2-for-4 in title defenses this year and has won three times in 10 events. The event is limited to 78 stellar players, 56 from the LPGA Tour and 22 from the Evian Ladies European Tour (LET). Included in the field are 11 of the 13 LPGA tournament champions from 2003, as well as all eight tournament champions from the 2003 LET season.
The event is a chance for players from the two Tours to get a look at each other heading into the 2003 Solheim Cup, Sept. 12-14, at Barseback Golf & Country Club in Malmo, Sweden. Of the 78 players competing in this years event, 32 have prior Solheim Cup experience dating back to the inaugural Cup in 1990. Dale Reid, the 2000 and 2002 European Team Captain, is competing in the event, as is 2003 European Team Captain Catrin Nilsmark and her Vice Captain, Alison Nicholas. Other players to watch this week include Laura Davies, Laura Diaz, Natalie Gulbis, Juli Inkster, U.S. Womens Open champion Hilary Lunke, leading LPGA Tour rookie Lorena Ochoa, Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, 2001 Evian Masters champion Rachel Teske and Karrie Webb.
Last year, Kim carded a 66 (-6) in the first round to take a one-stroke lead over Mhairi McKay and Carin Koch. Frances Karine Icher held the lead after round two with a 134 (-10) total, a one-shot advantage over Leta Lindley, Sorenstam and Pak.
Sorenstam charged to a four-shot lead over Kim thanks to a 65 (-7) in the third round, which gave her a 200 (-16) three-day total. Sorenstams lead never diminished to less than two strokes in the final round, as the Swede carded four birdies against a lone bogey for a threeunder- par 69. Hjorth closed with a final- round 64 (-8), tying the tournament record, and charged to the runner-up spot with Kim, who carded a 69 (-3) in the final round.
It was Sorenstams fifth win of the 2002 season and the 36th of her career.