A Longs Way in a Short Time

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When Cristie Kerr held off Hee-Won Han to win last years Longs Drugs Challenge it was supposed to be the final crack that broke the dam. The one that let loose a flood of potential and talent.
 
And so it did ' for Han.
 
Since that runner-up finish ' her best-ever LPGA result at the time, the 25-year-old Korean has won twice and earned 15 top-10 finishes in 40 events.
 
She captured her maiden tour title in the Big Apple Classic in July, and garnered victory No. 2 less than a month later in the New Albany Golf Classic. During this 40-tournament stretch, the 2001 Rookie of the Year also has eight top-5 finishes.
 
Kerr hasnt been a slacker; she just hasnt, in comparison to Han, been as productive.
 
The soon-to-be 26-year-old Floridian has nine top-10s since her win. But what she doesnt have is another win.
 
Its been over a year since she, for the first time and for the last time, held high a trophy. The 2002 Longs Drugs was contested in April. This year, it has been moved back to early October.
 
The four-day event (Starting Thurs., 2:00 PM ET on TGC) will take place at the new Lincoln Hills Club in Lincoln, Calif. The par-72, 6,388-yard course neighbors Twelve Bridges Golf Club, which had hosted this event since its inception in 1996.
 
The list of past champions is short but sterling. Kelly Robbins won the inaugural event, while Annika Sorenstam won in 1997. After Donna Andrews prevailed in 98, Juli Inkster won back-to-back in 1999 and 2000. Se Ri Pak was the title holder before Kerr took over that honor last year.
 
Two fairly common threads running through these seven years are competitiveness and nationality. Five of the seven have been determined by two strokes or less, with the first two editions going into playoffs.
 
Only Inkster cruised to victory, winning by four and five, respectively, in her repeat wins.
 
Five of the seven have also been won by Americans. Thats a good omen for the U.S. contingency, who has counted for only six of the 25 LPGA victories this season.
 
This years field includes Kelli Kuehne, Grace Park, Juli Inkster, Beth Daniel, Laura Davies and U.S. Open champion Hilary Lunke.
 
This is the 26th event on the 2003 LPGA schedule, and there are only five more tournaments remaining on the calendar.
 
Only two of the final five events are slated for a full field ' and they are both out of the country. Next weeks CJ Nine Bridges Classic will take place in Korea, while the Mizuno Classic will be held in Japan.
 
The other three tournaments are the Samsung World Championship (limited to 20 of the top players in the world), the Mobile Tournament of Champions (for select tournament winners and Hall of Fame members) and the ADT Championship (for the top 30 on the money list).
 
Related Links:
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Longs Drugs Challenge
  • More LPGA Tour Preview Information