Lunke Looks for Open Repeat


2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Hilary Lunke is looking to put another mark in the history books this week at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass.
With her thrilling playoff win at last years U.S. Womens Open conducted by the USGA over Angela Stanford and Kelly Robbins, Lunke made history and became a Rolex First-Time Winner. She became the first sectional qualifier to win the U.S. Womens Open and was only the 13th person in LPGA history to make the U.S. Womens Open her first victory.
Before last years win, Lunkes highest finish on the LPGA Tour was a tie for 15th at the Wendys Championship for Children at Tartan Fields in 2002.
The win, however, did not come easily. On Sunday, Stanford sank a 20-foot putt on the 18th hole, while Robbins birdied two out of her last three holes. The pressure was on Lunke to make her par putt and force a playoff. She did just that and all three players finished the weekend 1 under par.
The trio prepared for an 18-hole playoff on Monday. Lunke appeared to be in control at the beginning of the day, but Stanford and Robbins soon caught up with her. Lunke had a one-shot advantage over Stanford coming into Mondays final hole. Stanford sank a 27-foot birdie putt, putting the pressure on Lunke.
Lunke was up to the challenge and drove her 15-foot birdie putt into the hole to end up with a 1-under-par 70 and the tournament victory. In addition to the win, Lunke also came home with the largest payout in LPGA history, $560,000. The victory moved her from 88th to fourth on the 2003 ADT Official Money List.
Stanford and Robbins shared the second-place earnings and each walked away with $272,004.
Last year, with just this title, the winner would have finished 19th on the ADT Official Money list. This year, the purse will again be the largest on the LPGA Tour at $3.1 million.
The 59th annual U.S. Womens Open conducted by the USGA will be held July 1-4 at the Orchards Golf Club located on the campus of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.
Lunke, Stanford and Robbins will be part of a field that consists of the worlds top players, including past winners Laura Davies (1987), Liselotte Neumann (1988), Besty King (1989-90), Meg Mallon (1991), Annika Sorenstam (1995-96), Se Ri Pak (1998), Juli Inkster (1999-2002) and Karrie Webb (2000-01).
Virtually every LPGA star will tee it up this week, including all 2004 tournament champions, including two-time champion Cristie Kerr, Jennifer Rosales, Grace Park, Karen Stupples, Lorena Ochoa, Kim Saiki and Sherri Steinhauer.
Both Park and Sorenstam will be looking for their second major championship titles of the season.
A great group of amateurs will also be on hand. Teen phenom Michelle Wie will be in the field after accepting a special exemption from the USGA to play in the tournament. Also, Paula Creamer, who finished tied for second two weeks ago at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, will be among those playing, as will current U.S. Womens Amateur champion Virada Nirapathpongporn.