The unique tournament offers a $1.1 million purse (unofficial money) and features 20, two-women teams representing their respective countries. The event will be played at the Gary Player Country Club, Jan. 20-22.
The event is co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour (LET), with countries qualifying from both Tours to compete. The tournament, which in last year's inaugural event became the first-ever truly worldwide team competition co-sanctioned by both Tours, consists of a three-day, 54-hole competition with a different format on each day: 18 holes of foursomes; 18 holes of four-ball; and 18 holes of stroke play. The winners will be determined by combining each team's scores from all three days.
Every country participating is capable of winning, but heading into the event England, Japan, Sweden and the United States have to be among the favorites. Japan returns as the defending champions as 12-time Ladies Professional Golfers' Association of Japan (JLPGA) winner and LPGA Tour rookie Ai Miyazato, will team up with new partner Sakura Yokomine. Miyazato teamed with Rui Kitada to win the 2005 Women's World Cup of Golf.
The 20-year-old Miyazato, who won the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American Airlines late last year by a record 12 shots to earn exempt status on the LPGA Tour for the 2006 season, recorded 14 top-10 finishes on the JLPGA Tour in 2005, including six wins to finish second on the JLPGA money list. Yokomine, who is also 20, also had 14 top-10 finishes on the JLPGA Tour, including two victories, to finish fourth on the season-ending money list.
The team from Sweden is on top of the favorites list as LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Annika Sorenstam will tee it up with partner Liselotte Neumann to represent Sweden. Sorenstam, who won her eighth Rolex Player of the Year Award and sixth Vare Trophy last season, recorded 10 wins on the LPGA Tour and amassed more than $2.5 million in season earnings. During her career, Sorenstam has won 66 LPGA tournaments and has earned more than $18.3 million in career earnings. Thirteen-time LPGA champion Neumann finished the 2005 LPGA season strong with three top-three finishes, including a tie for second to her partner Sorenstam at the season-ending ADT Championship.
With American teenage sensation Paula Creamer on the U.S. team, the United States looks to be one of the favorites as well. The 19-year-old Creamer, who won two LPGA Tour events during her rookie season, will pair with 23-year-old Natalie Gulbis. Creamer, the reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, finished second on the 2005 ADT Official Money List with eight top-five finishes. Gulbis recorded 12 top-10 finishes, including seven top-fives.
Creamer and Gulbis both made history on the LPGA Tour in 2005, as Creamer became the youngest and fastest to earn more than $1 million in her career while Gulbis became the first person on Tour to earn more than $1 million in a season without a victory. Look for the United States to rack up a lot of birdies, because Creamer and Gulbis both finished in the top four in total birdies in 2005, combining to drain 650.
The flag bearers for England are Kirsty Taylor and long-hitting Laura Davies. Taylor recorded eight top-20 finishes on the LET, including a win at the 2005 Wales Ladies Championship. Davies, who has 20 LPGA victories and 46 international victories during her career, had back-to-back third place finishes at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the McDonald's LPGA Championship in 2005.
Last year, the inaugural Women's World Cup of Golf was played in George, South Africa, at the prestigious Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate. Japan's duo of Miyazato and Kitada mastered all three rounds of competition and finished with a final score of 68-72-149=289 (-3). They were two shots better than runner-ups South Korea, who were represented by Jeong Jang and Bo Bae Song, and the Philippines, who were represented by Dorothy Delasin and Jennifer Rosales.
2006 Women's World Cup of Golf final field:
Australia -- Shani Waugh, Rachel Hetherington
Brazil -- Candy Hannemann, Luciana Bemvenuti
Canada -- Lorie Kane, A.J. Eathorne
Columbia -- Marisa Baena, Cristina Baena
England -- Kirsty Taylor, Laura Davies
Finland -- Minea Blomqvist, Riikka Hakkarainen
France -- Gwladys Nocera, Karine Icher
Germany -- Anja Monke, Miriam Nagl
Italy -- Veronica Zorzi, Silvia Cavalleri
Japan -- Ai Miyazato, Sakura Yokomine
New Zealand -- Lynnette Brooky, Gina Scott
Philippines -- Dorothy Delasin, Ria Quiazon
Scotland -- Catriona Matthew, Janice Moodie
South Africa -- Laurette Maritz, Ashleigh Simon (a)
South Korea -- Meena Lee, Bo Bae Song
Spain -- Marta Prieto, Paula Marti
Sweden -- Annika Sorenstam, Liselotte Neumann
Taiwan -- Amy Hung, Yu Ping Lin
United States -- Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis
Wales -- Becky Brewerton, Becky Morgan