After an unexpected hiatus, players return to competition in the Asahi Ryokuken Augusta International Championship in what tournament organizers have described as 'the future ladies version of the Masters'. A $1.2 million purse - the 7th largest on Tour this season, backs up this bold statement.
The winner takes home $180,000 in first-place money but there's a lot more at stake than a check this week.
It's crunch time, and this - the last official full-field event of the season - is close to the last official money event of the season as well. Play this week will help determine who the top-90 players on the money list are for the 2002 season (think players with exempt status).
That's not all this weeks competitors are thinking about. This is the last chance to earn points for the 2001 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the year award. Duking it out are Korea's Hee Won Han, who has accumulated 367 points, and Wales' Becky Morgan, who has 308 points coming into this event. Both are playing this week and it's sure to be a full-fledged battle. Han has the upper hand. As long as she finishes in the top-six, the title is hers. Morgan can take the title if she finishes in the top-seven and Han finishes no better than 21st place.
The host club chosen for the inaugural Asahi Ryokuken Augusta International Championship is none other than Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club designed by architect Tom Jackson and located in North Augusta, S.C. Although it is in a different state, the club is a mere 12 miles from Augusta National.
Jackson's captivating design will play to a 6,321 yard par 72 for the tournament and the scenic layout is the perfect setting for the LPGA Tour to play their last official money event of the season.
Who's in the field? Karrie Webb will be there, so will Annika Sorenstam and her sister Charlotta. Se Ri Pak, Laura Davies, Mi Hyun Kim and Sophie Gustafson are scheduled to play as well. Many hopes will be pinned on the outcome of this week.
Tournament play for this four-day event begins on Thursday at 7:00am ET. After the conclusion of the second round on Friday, the field will be cut to the low 70 players and ties.