The 32-player field is comprised of 16 LPGA Tour players and 16 players from the Ladies Professional Golfers Association of Japan (JLPGA) in the individual match play event. Highlighting the LPGA side are 15 of the top 16 players from the 2002 LPGA Tour money list, including No. 1 and Match Play defending champion Sorenstam.
Joining Sorenstam is 2002 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Beth Bauer, seven 2002 Solheim Cup players (Laura Diaz, Cristie Kerr, Rosie Jones, Michele Redman, Carin Koch, Kelly Robbins and Sorenstam), two Rolex first-time Wwnners (Diaz, Kerr) and seven 2002 LPGA tournament winners. Eleven of the 16 played in last weeks Sports Today CJ Nine Bridges Classic in Korea, while the other five (Karrie Webb, Diaz, Jones, Redman, Robbins) are making their journey to Japan for the $1,020,000 event.
The event features a traditional individual match-play competition, beginning with one LPGA player and one JLPGA player competing against each other in 16 head-to-head matchups. Each round will consist of an 18-hole match for each twosome and the eventual winner will need to win all five rounds to take home the first-place prize of $153,000. Players from each tour are seeded one through 16 based on their position on their respective tours money list. Seeding for the LPGA players was done using the money list following the conclusion of the 2002 Williams Championship on Sept. 8.
Sorenstam is the top seed for the LPGA, while Yuri Fudoh is leading the way for the JLPGA. Sorenstam will play the JLPGAs 16th-seeded player in the first round, while the JLPGAs topseeded player will face the LPGAs 16th seed.
In 2001, Sorenstam came back from a four-hole deficit to win the CISCO World Ladies Match Play Championship. The Swede needed all 18 holes to defeat Se Ri Pak, 1-up, in the finals. During the final round, Pak won the first two holes of the match. The duo halved the third hole, but Pak was back in the drivers seat when she won the fourth hole to go 3-up through four holes. When Pak went 4-up after winning the sixth hole, the match looked all but over.
However, the momentum shifted to Sorenstam on the eighth hole when Pak, who already had won five tournaments in 2001, three-putted and dropped the hole to Sorenstam. Sorenstam proceeded to win the next three holes and bring the match to all-square after 11 holes. Although the match went 18 holes, the outcome was basically decided at the 15th hole.
On the par-5 15th hole both players were close to the hole ' with Pak within three feet and Sorenstam inside a foot. After Pak lipped out her putt, Sorenstam sunk her putt to move to 1-up. Sorenstam was dormie at the 17th hole. Both Pak and Sorenstam made par on the 17th and 18th holes.
En route to the finals, both Pak and Sorenstam played their way through some tough competition. Sorenstam defeated JLPGA player Mineko Nasau in the first round, Michele Redman in the second round, Mhairi McKay in the quarterfinals and Lorie Kane in the semifinals. Pak, in turn, defeated JLPGA player Michiko Hattori in the first round, Janice Moodie in the second round, Rachel Teske in the quarterfinals and JLPGA player Yu-Chen Huang in the semifinals.
Last years event was the first time the CISCO World Ladies Match Play Championship was played as an individual match-play competition. From 1979-2000, this tournament was an unofficial team event and pitted the LPGA against the JLPGA. The LPGA enjoyed a 19-3 advantage over the JLPGA during that 22-year span.
Statistical Preview for the Cisco World Ladies Match Play Championship