Annika Seeks Fourth ShopRite Title


GALLOWAY TWP., N.J. ' The ShopRite LPGA Classic returns to Galloway Township, N.J., this week for the 21st time. Residents and fans of the Atlantic City-area are accustomed to top-notch entertainment, and the star players of the LPGA Tour will not disappoint.
Annika Sorenstam will most certainly be in the hunt this week for her second successful title defense of the year. Her three-day 67-65-64=196 (-17) in 2005 was enough for a four-stroke victory over Juli Inkster. Sorenstam and Inkster are two of many ADT Official Money List leaders in the field, along with Mexico's Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb'who have been solid leaders in the ADT Points race as well as on the ADT Official Money List.
At this time last year, Sorenstam had won four of the six events she started. With one win and four additional top-six finishes this season, a victory could not be better timed as the McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola'the LPGA's second major, which Sorenstam will also be defending'follows the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Back-to-back wins for Sorenstam would be her first since she won the 2005 Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship last November; also back-to-back title defenses.
To date, Sorenstam has earned three wins at the ShopRite LPGA Classic (1998, 2002 and 2005), which is matched only by Betsy King (1987, 1995 and 2001). Inkster owns two titles as the tournament's first winner in 1986 and, again, in 1988 when she defeated Beth Daniel in a sudden-death playoff.
Hee-Won Han, who won last week's LPGA Corning Classic by defeating Meena Lee in a four-hole playoff, will also join the field in Atlantic City. Han, who has played well as of late with top-five finishes in her last five events, moved into third place on the money list this week.
If you keep playing the numbers game, you can't ignore the players that have statistically led the tour all season. Cristie Kerr already has one win this season and six other top-10s and continues to show a strong presence in the total birdies category. Natalie Gulbis has been a machine this year by consistently posting high marks for greens in regulation and her rounds-under-par percentage. As always, a quiet, but undeniable contender any week is rookie Seon Hwa Lee, who leads the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year race by nearly 200 points. After 11 starts in 12 Tour events, she hovers around the $500,000 mark in career-earnings.
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