In 2005, Marisa Baena became the dark horse champion, winning as the 60th seed in the event's inaugural year. Last year, Brittany Lincicome charged through the brackets as the 39th seed and took down second-seed Michelle Wie, third-seed Lorena Ochoa and eighth-seed Juli Inkster in the finals for the win.
If Lincicome wants to successfully defend her title at the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, she'll have to do it on a new course against 63 of the world's top-ranked players. Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y., will host the event, which was held at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in New Jersey for the first two years. Wykagyl is familiar territory for the LPGA, though, as it played host to the Sybase Classic for 17 years.
After the first round of 32 matches on Thursday, half of the field will be eliminated. On Friday, the top-16 players will advance to Saturday's third round when the competition will heat up with the possibility of playing four more matches towards victory. The winner will walk away with a $500,000 check ' one quarter of the $2 million purse.
Rolex Rankings number one Lorena Ochoa, who has three victories this season and is just shy of $1.8 million in 2007 earnings, is the top seed this week. Ochoa advanced to the semifinals last year where she was defeated by Lincicome in 19 holes. She is joined by LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Famers Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Juli Inkster, all of whom are eager to capture their first HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship title. Pak, who won her fifth title at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger last week, qualified for the Hall of Fame on June 7. Inkster came ever so close to winning last season, but couldn't put together a solid final round, losing 3and 2 to Lincicome.
In addition to Ochoa and four Hall of Famers, the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship field includes the top-30 players on the Rolex Rankings through the U.S. Women's Open, who have committed to play in the event. The top-29 players on the LPGA Official Money List through the U.S. Women's Open who are not already qualified also gain entry into the tournament, as well as Trish Johnson, the number-one ranked player on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit.
Eighteen-year old South African Ashleigh Simon, who turned professional in June, is one of two sponsor exemptions and completed her LPGA Tour professional debut last week at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger, but missed the cut. Baena was awarded the other exemption.
If the winner of the tournament is an LPGA member, she will automatically qualify for the season-ending ADT Championship as it is one of five Winner Event spots in the second half LPGA Playoffs 2007.