Annika Returns Matthew Set to Defend


2005 WendyDUBLIN, Ohio - Catriona Matthew is going to have her work cut out for her this week as she seeks to defend her title at the Wendy's Championship for Children.
A year after winning her second-career LPGA title over a field that featured 12 of the top 20 players on the ADT Official Money List, Matthew now has to contend with 19 of the top 20 players this year and a field that is one of the strongest the LPGA has seen this season.
One of those players well deserving of a Biggie Size label is top-ranked Annika Sorenstam, who returns to the tournament for the first time since placing second in 2001. Sorenstam won the inaugural event in 1999, her only other appearance at the Wendy's Championship for Children when the tournament was contested at New Albany Country Club.
This week marks the Super Swede's first appearance at Tartan Fields Golf Club-tournament site since 2002 - and the first time central Ohio golf fans will have the opportunity to see her in person since becoming a one-name living legend of the game. The last time she played in 2001, Sorenstam had yet to play with the men on the PGA Tour, had yet to complete the LPGA Career Grand Slam, had yet to become an LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member and had only 23 wins and three majors on her resume, compared with the 62 and nine she has now.
With six wins including two majors this year, Sorenstam is the queen of the LPGA, but that means that the princess - always adorned in something pink - is 19-year-old rookie Paula Creamer, who desires to assume Sorenstam's throne, either through vacation or eviction.
Creamer, the only other multiple tournament winner on Tour this year, is ranked second on the ADT Official Money List and returns to the Wendy's Championship for Children for the second time in her young but prosperous career. She played last year as a sponsor exemption and finished 18th.
This year, she has rewritten the LPGA's record book with regard to almost anything that pertains to being the youngest or the quickest to do something, and her have-no-fear persona, albeit draped in a friendly pink color, represents the future of the game.
For her, the future is now, as this week she could accomplish one of her main goals set at the beginning of the year, to make the U.S. Solheim Cup Team. The squad will be announced Aug. 28 at the conclusion of this week's event, and Creamer, who is currently eighth in the standings, is a virtual lock to make the team.
Creamer can also wrap up the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award this week, a formality at this point as she enters the race with a 570-point lead over Meena Lee. Lee, a winner at the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women's Open, would need to win at least four of the five remaining full-field events this year to have a shot at catching Creamer.
Last year, Matthew overcame a three-shot deficit on the final six holes to force a sudden-death playoff with defending champion Hee-Won Han. Matthew then made par on the first playoff hole for her second-career win, ending a 96-event winless streak.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Wendy's Championship for Children