Sorenstam Knocking on Halls Door


THE WOODLANDS, Texas ' For Annika Sorenstam, defending a tournament title is nothing new. Shes had to do it dozens of times in her stellar career.
But while a title defense at this weeks Samsung World Championship on the surface seems like the same old storyline, it will in fact be a very special week for the 47-time LPGA champion.
When Sorenstam tees off on the first hole on The Players Course at The Woodlands, she will be celebrating her 33rd birthday. When she finishes the 18th hole on The Players Course at The Woodlands, she will be a member of the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame.
Upon completion of the first round of the event Thursday, Sorenstam will officially meet the final requirements for entrance into the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame. Sorenstam, an international member, needed to compete in 15 events in 2003 to officially complete her 10th season on tour, and the Samsung World Championship is her 15th event.
LPGA, World Golf Hall of Fame and tournament officials have planned a small ceremony on the 18th green Thursday to commemorate the event (Sorenstam will be inducted at the annual Induction Ceremony at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., on Oct. 20).
Despite the special occasion, Sorenstam cant expect the rest of field to take it easy on her. The Samsung World Championship, which has moved to The Player Course at The Woodlands this year, features the best 20 players in the world, and although Sorenstam has won the event three times, her fellow competitors this week hold impressive credentials of their own.
Combined, the field has won 217 tournaments, including 25 major championships. Only Lorena Ochoa, who earned Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors last week, will be looking for her first victory.
Sorenstam will play alongside LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel, who are also three-time winners of the event (Inkster, 1997-98 and 2000; Daniel, 1980-81 and 1994). Other past champions in the field include Rosie Jones (1988), Meg Mallon (1991) and Se Ri Pak (1999).
In addition to the LPGA standouts in this years field, the top players from three international tours are also competing: Sophie Gustafson, Evian Ladies European Tour; Yun-Jye (Connie) Wei, Japan LPGA Tour; and Mi Na Lee, Korea LPGA Tour.
At last years Samsung World Championship, Sorenstam carded rounds of 66-67-68 to move into the lead with Cristie Kerr, who had also posted three consecutive rounds in the 60s, including a tournament-low 64 in the second round. On Sunday, however, it was all Sorenstam as the Swede posted a near flawless 65 to outdistance the field and win by six shots. It was Sorenstams third win in a row and the 40th of her career.
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