Laides Back in New York for Corning Classic

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2006 Corning ClassicCORNING, N.Y. -- The $1.5 million LPGA Corning Classic tees off this week with a field highlighted by first-time defending champion Young Kim. The then-27-year-old Kim fired four consecutive rounds in the 60s, including a season-low 64 in the second round to edge Paula Creamer and Mi Hyun Kim by three strokes and become the fifth Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2007 season.
 
The battle for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year will heat up this week on the 6,223-yard, par-72 layout as leader and non-exempt Tour member Na Yeon Choi, of South Korea, (500 points) continues to hold off Yani Tseng, of Taiwan, (441 points). Reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Angela Park, who struggled to a tie for 35th at last season's LPGA Corning Classic, will also make an appearance in search of her first LPGA victory.
 
Creamer is back for her second go-around at the Corning Country Club after finished tied for second last season. Since her last trip to Corning, she has three victories (2007 Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions, 2008 Fields Open in Hawaii and 2008 SemGroup Championship Presented by John Q. Hammons). Creamer entered the final round last year tied for the lead at 16-under-par with Kim and Beth Bader, but her 1-under-par 71 finish was not enough to finish with the title.
 
In the first 29 stagings of the LPGA Corning Classic, there have been 27 different winners. Only LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Famer Betsy King (1991, 2000), and 13-time Tour winner Rosie Jones (1996, 1997) have won the event twice in their careers. In addition to Kim, five other past champions are in the field this week, including 2006 champion Hee-Won Han, Jimin Kang (2005), Laura Diaz (2002), Sherri Turner (1988) and Jones.
 
Just as impressive are the number of past champions over the event's 30 Years of Golf & Giving, who have been members of either the European or U.S. Solheim Cup teams. Upcoming 2009 team captains Beth Daniel (U.S.A.) and Alison Nicholas (Europe) won in Corning in 1994 and 1995, respectively, as well as one of Daniels' assistant captains Kelly Robbins (1993). Other past champions who have competed on the U.S. Solheim Cup Team are: 2002, 2003 captain Patty Sheehan (1983); 1994 captain JoAnne Carner (1984); 2000 captain Pat Bradley (1990); 2007 captain King; Jones; Tammie Green (1998); Kelli Kuehne (1999); Diaz; and Juli Inkster (2003). Carin Koch (2001); and Annika Sorenstam (2004) are past champions who have represented the European Solheim Cup team.
 
The GOLF CHANNEL has coverage of all four rounds this week.
 
Next week, the LPGA heads to South Carolina for the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika. Annika Sorenstam is expected to compete for the second time since announcing she is stepping away from golf at the end of the year. Nicole Castrale downed Lorena Ochoa in a playoff to win the inaugural title last year.
 
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