The Swede is defending one of her 11 titles from 2002 as the LPGA resumes tournament play following an off week after a dramatic Solheim Cup in Malmo, Sweden.
The 144-player field is stacked with talent and accomplished players who will give Sorenstam a run for her money as she aims for her fifth title of the 2003 season. Three-time 2003 winners Se Ri Pak and Candie Kung will challenge Sorenstam, as well as two-time champions Hee-Won Han, Juli Inkster and Rachel Teske.
Eight other past Safeway Classic champions are also competing in the 54- hole event: Danielle Ammaccapane (1998); Donna Andrews (1993); Michelle Estill (1991); Chris Johnson (1997); Mi Hyun Kim (2000); Betsy King (1988); Dottie Pepper (1996); and Inkster (1999).
Of the 24 players who competed in the 2003 Solheim Cup two weeks ago, 21 will be teeing it up at Columbia Edgewater Country Club this week.
If that wasnt enough to keep Sorenstams guard up, 13-year-old sensation Michelle Wie, who finished tied for ninth in the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship and has made four of five LPGA cuts this year, is playing as a sponsors exemption.
The other exemption goes to Suzy Whaley, the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional member who qualified for and competed in the PGA Tours Greater Hartford Open earlier this summer.
Other tour stars competing this week include Laura Davies, Laura Diaz, U.S. Womens Open champion Hilary Lunke, Grace Park and Karrie Webb.
Last year, Rosie Jones, Webb, Andrews and Inkster shared the first-round lead after opening with 5-under-par 67s. Sorenstam followed a first-round 69 with a blistering 62 in the second round for a 131 total and a three-stroke lead over Karen Stupples.
Sorenstam birdied the 18th hole to close with a 4-under-par 68 in the final round, holding off a charging Kate Golden by a single stroke to claim her eighth win of the season. Goldens final-round 65 left her with a 200 total, just one shot off Sorenstams final tally.