Annika Ochoa Try to Deny Hurst Repeat


2005 State Farm ClassicSPRINGFIELD, Ill. ' Now is the perfect time for Pat Hurst to defend her 2005 State Farm Classic title. With a week's break behind her, Hurst returns to action in what is quickly becoming the best season of her 12-year career.
Two weeks ago, Hurst won her fifth LPGA title at the Safeway Classic Presented by Pepsi. With that win, she eclipsed the $1 million mark in season earnings for the first time in her career and became the seventh player to accomplish the feat this season, a Tour record.
Hurst also crossed the $5 million mark in career earnings earlier this season. She has recorded seven top-10 finishes, including runner-ups at the Franklin American Mortgage Championship benefiting the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA, where she lost to Annika Sorenstam in an 18-hole playoff. With a win this week in Springfield, Hurst would join five other players who have won at least two events this season. World number-one Annika Sorenstam is one of those players.
Sorenstam will make her first appearance at The Rail Golf Club since 2001 when she finished runner-up to Kate Golden. Sorenstam is coming off a successful title defense at her own tournament, the Scandinavian TPC hosted by Annika, an event on the Ladies European Tour that took place in Stockholm, Sweden. On the LPGA Tour, she has earned $1,381,450 with two wins this season.
Hurst will also have her hands full with ADT Official Money List leader Lorena Ochoa in the field. Last week, Ochoa proved once again she is the player to beat on the LPGA Tour this season, winning her third title of year at the Wendy's Championship for Children. She has posted 14 top-10 finishes this season and has earned more than $1.8 million.
Another person who will challenge Hurst for the title is 2004 State Farm Classic champion Cristie Kerr. Kerr recently won the CN Canadian Women's Open, her second title of the season. She has been strong in Springfield throughout her career, falling just short of successfully defending her 2004 title last year with a second-place finish behind Hurst.
Mi Hyun Kim has also had success at the State Farm Classic. Kim, who has won two tournaments this year, became a Rolex First-Time Winner in Springfield in 1999. Seven years later, Kim currently has seven-career victories and has made more than $6 million. Kim tied for 15 th place at the State Farm Classic last year.
Other past champions who will compete this week include: Cindy Figg-Currier (1997); Kate Golden (2001); Candie Kung (2003); Michelle McGann (1996); Patricia Meunier-Lebouc (2002); and Barb Mucha (1994).
Duramed Futures Tour player Salimah Mussani will make her LPGA Tour debut as a sponsor exemption this week. Mussani won the Michelob ULTRA Duramed Futures Tour Players Championship in June to earn the sponsor exemption into the State Farm Classic.
Hurst went into the final round last year with a three-shot lead after a third round full of birdies. She began Sunday the same way with birdies on four of her first five holes and made the turn with a five-shot lead over Kerr. Things tightened on the back nine, as Hurst double-bogeyed 12 when her ball rolled out-of-bounds, and then bogeyed 13. Kerr birdied the par-3 16 th, after nearly holing out, but a bogey on 18 gave Hurst the win.
Natalie Gulbis and Heather Bowie tied for third at 13-under-par 275.
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