The par-71, 6,571-yard Cedar Ridge Country Club plays host to the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic presented by SemGroup for the third consecutive year and with narrow fairways and tricky greens, it is by far one of the most challenging courses the LPGA visits all year.
In the past two years combined, only 12 players have finished the 54-hole event in red numbers and 69-time LPGA champion Annika Sorenstam is the only player to taste victory here.
Fresh off her win last week at the State Farm Classic, Sorenstam is now gunning for her third straight and fourth overall title at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic. Sorenstam also won the 2002 event when it was contested at Tulsa Country Club.
In 2004, Sorenstam was the only player to fire sub-par rounds all three days and was on track to do the same in 2005 until bogeys on two of her last three holes dropped her to a 2-over-par final round.
A successful defense this week would be the first of four Sorenstam is looking for in the last quarter of the LPGA Tour schedule. Of her 10 wins in 2005, she has only successfully defended her first of the season at the MasterCard Classic honoring Alejo Peralta. Sorenstam was winless in April, May and June this year before earning her 10th major at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA in an 18-hole playoff over Pat Hurst and after her win last week, she appears to be clicking on all cylinders at the right time.
A win this week would place the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic in elite company when it comes to Sorenstam wins, as it would be only the fourth tournament that the Swede has won four times or more on Tour.
Sorenstam toughest competition in 2005 came from then-rookie Paula Creamer, who finished second to her here last year and on the season-ending ADT Official Money List. Creamer was the only player in 2005 to shoot at or below par all three rounds, but still came up one stroke short of Sorenstam. Creamer is still searching for her first win this year and perhaps she will rise to the top this week.
One player who Sorenstam and Creamer did not have to worry about last year was Lorena Ochoa, but that is not the case this year. Ochoa, who tops the ADT Official Money List and is the frontrunner for Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy honors, is in the field this week. She has three wins this year and is coveting a fourth. The $150,000 first-place check would make her the first player not named Sorenstam to pass $2 million in season earnings.