The Day Belongs to Michelob

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The last time the LPGA staged an event in Virginia the total purse was $425,000 and Jennifer Wyatt became a Rolex First-Time Winner. That was 1992 and this is now. More than 10 years later, the LPGA returns to The Old Dominion State to play for $1.6 million, one of the largest purses on Tour, for the inaugural Michelob Light Open at Kingsmill held May 1-4.
 
A field of 144 professionals will embark on the venerable grounds of Williamsburg, Va., for the 72-hole event at the Kingsmill Resort & Spa's River Course. All the big names in women's golf are here as 49 of the top 50 and 95 of the top 100 players from the ADT Official Money List are scheduled to compete, including all five 2003 winners Wendy Doolan, Candie Kung, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, Se Ri Pak and Annika Sorenstam.
 
And although the LPGA has not been to Virginia in more than a decade, several past Virginia champions are playing the Michelob Light Open at Kingsmill this week. LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Famers Amy Alcott and reigning U.S. Women's Open champion Juli Inkster are teeing it up. Alcott won the 1979 and the 1984 United Virginia Bank Classic while Inkster won the Crestar Classic in 1988 and 1989. Dottie Pepper and Jan Stephenson, two more winners of Virginia-based events, are also in the field. Stephenson won the 1981 United Virginia Bank Classic and Pepper took the grand prize at the 1990 Crestar Classic.
 
Also in the field is LPGA Teaching and Club Professional member Suzy Whaley. Whaley, the winner of the 2002 GOLF FOR WOMEN LPGA T&CP National Championship, is competing this week via a sponsors exemption.
 
This year is shaping up to be one of the most competitive the LPGA has seen in recent history. Yes, Sorenstam is still winning, but so are many others. In six events this season, fans have enjoyed seeing five different winners. In only four events Sorenstam has already won more than $500,000 and has not finished worse than a tie for third, but twice this season she has been tracked down during the final round to have a championship taken away from her.
 
Pak was the culprit at the Safeway PING Presented by Yoplait as she clawed back from a final-round, three-shot deficit to win the tournament as Sorenstam finished in a tie for third. Earlier this year Sorenstam was vying for an unprecedented third-straight Kraft Nabisco Championship and was leading with less than nine holes to play, but France's Meunier-Lebouc bettered Sorenstam shot-for-shot coming down the stretch to win her first major championship by one stroke.
 
The competition has been competitive and story lines have been entertaining week-in and week-out in 2003, and this week's Michelob Light Open at Kingsmill is primed to deliver yet another week of excitement from tee to green.
 

Statistical Preview of the Michelob Light Open