Its Time for the Annika Show


PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The world watches as Annika Sorenstam tries to match or top her mark of 11 LPGA wins in 2002, but. Rachel Teske just tries to defend her title at this week's Safeway PING Presented by Yoplait.
Australian Teske, a six-time LPGA champion, leads an all-star cast that includes reigning Rolex Player of the Year Sorenstam, who is making her much anticipated 2003 season debut in the $1 million event.
Teske out-dueled Sorenstam in last year's event, winning on the second hole of sudden death. It was the first of two victories for Teske in 2002.
Teske and Sorenstam are two of 97 top-100 players from last year's money list who are competing in the 72-hole event, which traditionally features one of the tour's strongest fields. All 13 tournament champions from the 2002 season will be battling for the $150,000 first-place prize, including five-time champion Se Ri Pak.
Reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Beth Bauer, along with LPGA stars Karrie Webb, Grace Park, Juli Inkster, Laura Diaz and Mi Hyun Kim are among the 144 players looking for an early season victory to get them started off right. The field also has an LPGA Tour and World Golf Hall of Fame flavor as Amy Alcott, JoAnne Carner, Beth Daniel, Betsy King and Patty Sheehan join Inkster in the field.
LPGA Tour rookies Paula Marti and Stacy Prammanasudh are making their season debuts this week via sponsor exemptions. They join a group of 10 rookies who made their debuts at last week's Welch's/Fry's Championship in Tucson, Ariz., including Raquel Carriedo, Christina Kim, Angela Jerman and Lorena Ochoa.
Last year at Moon Valley Country Club, Emilee Klein, Jackie Gallagher-Smith, Kelly Robbins, Shani Waugh and Sorenstam shared the first-round lead after posting 5-under-par 67s. Kim Saiki and Sorenstam shared a one-stroke lead at 137 (-7) after the second round, while Sorenstam's 68 (-4) in the third round gave the Swede a four-shot lead heading into final-round action.
That's when Teske made her move. On a tough scoring day, Teske carded a final-round1-under-par 71, while Sorenstam faltered with a 4-over-par 76, leaving the two deadlocked at 281 (-7). Teske nailed a six-footer for birdie on the second playoff hole to take the title from Sorenstam, who had just defeated Lorie Kane in a playoff the week before.
For Teske, it was her fifth career LPGA win and the first of two victories in 2002. She improved her career playoff record to 3-1 and to 2-1 over Sorenstam, who suffered her first career playoff loss to Teske at the 1998 First Union Betsy King Classic. Half of Sorenstam's four career playoff losses (11-4) have come at the hands of Teske.
Statistical Preview of the Safeway PING