Ms 59 Returns to the Site of Her Success


Annika Sorenstam ' winner of two titles this season - headlines the 144-woman field set to compete in the PING Banner Health Thursday through Sunday at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, Ariz. This years event boasts $1 million in prize money.
The 6,459 yard par-72 Moon Valley course is the site where, just one short year ago, the Swedish sensation made history by becoming the first women in history to record a 59 in competition.
Her long-time vision of completing the perfect round of 54 strokes seemed within her grasp as she made the turn, and although she fell five strokes short of the goal, the fiercely competitive Swedish native was not disappointed.
Moon Valley, fresh off a facelift in 2001 that increased bunkers from 60 to 93, was no match for the steely conviction of Sorenstam. Nor was fellow competitor Se Ri Pak, who ultimately fell two strokes short of a victory.
Pak returns to Moon Valley, making her 2002 debut appearance at as does Karrie Webb. 'I feel like for me I was not ready yet,' Pak said when asked why she did not participate in the Hawaiian events. 'I needed more time, time to think about season, just more time to get ready.'
Webb, like Sorenstam, is already enjoying a successful season. She starts the LPGA Tour season fresh off her win at the AAMI Australian Womens Open at Yarra Yarra Golf Club. But one cannot help but wonder ' in light of the fact that Sorenstam denied Webb of her fifth consecutive victory at the ANZ Ladies Masters in Queensland ' if Webb has something in store for her nemesis.
Non-exempt rookie Marine Monnet of St. Lom La Bretche, France, and Mexicos Lorena Ochoa - a sophomore at the University of Arizona ' were the recipients of sponsor exemptions for this week's play.
Monnet, Rookie of the Year in 2000 on the European tour, is only one of nine rookies competing this week. The others are Beth Bauer, Jeanne-Marie Busuttil, Angela Buzminski, Natalie Gulbis, Shiho Katano, Jung Yeon Lee, Sun Hee Lee and JoAnne Mills.
Just as the PING Banner Health gets under way, the first ever LPGA Player Summit wraps up. (Read Adam Barr's report.) LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw made the summit a mandatory event for every player scheduled to compete in Phoenix this week.
The environment in which we compete has drastically changed over the last decade, Votaw stated. We cannot look at ourselves as just a professional golf organization.
We are in the sports and entertainment business. We need to continue to give our fans a reason to come out and watch us play, tune in to the tournaments, and follow the Tour week after week. The summit is designed to give the players a clear understanding on what it is going to take to successfully compete in this sports entertainment arena.
Certainly Annika and Lorie Kane gave us reason to tune in last week at the Takefuji. The question that remains is whether they ' and the rest of the tour - can do it on a regular bases week after week, season after seasonStarting now.