Is Sorenstam Up To the Longs Drugs Challenge


California golf continues this week at the Longs Drugs Challenge held at beautiful Twelve Bridges Golf Club in Lincoln, Calif.
Twelve Bridges is a narrow and tough golf course, featuring several tiered greens and subtle breaks that should make putting especially tricky this week. Good putters will rise like cream to the top of the leaderboard at this course.
The toughest challenge players will face may be off the first tee. Hole No. 1 was rated one of the hardest holes on the LPGA Tour due to its severe slope from back to front making it particularly difficult to manage.
A competitive field, all vying for a piece of the $800,000 purse, will have their eye on one player in particular ' Annika Sorenstam.
Sorenstam, who has dominated golf in recent weeks, will attempt to make history - again - by becoming the only woman to win five consecutive tournaments. Its been an incredible year for the young Swede. Sorenstam set her sights on becoming the number one golfer and just last week she regained the number one spot on the money list ' a position she hasnt held since 1998.
Sorenstam, like Tiger Woods, is working out these days. Subsequently she has become one of the most physically fit ladies on Tour. In addition, the Swedish sensations game has reached a new level making her the most feared name in the field. I figured, you know, to be the best player out here, Sorenstam said at the Office Depot Hosted by Amy Alcott, I'd have to be good in every category of golf, and one of them I think is physically. I felt like I had a lot of improvements to do there. I decided to try to get stronger, more flexible, but also, you know, do a lot of cardio and just be in good shape. That's why I started to work out.
The Swedish prodigy faces some tough competition in defending champion Juli Inkster. Inkster successfully defended her title on the 6,330 yard par 72 course with scores of 70-67-66-72-275 to finish 13-under-par and five strokes ahead of runner up Brandie Burton.
The Californian native will be looking to make some history of her own this week. If Inkster, a Hall of Fame member, wins this week she will become only the seventh player to won the same title three times in a row.
The only player to successfully defend more titles is Laura Davies who won the Standard Register PING event from 1994 to 1997 joining legends Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen in golf's record books for winning the same tournament four consecutive times.
During the 2001 season Inkster has recorded three top-ten finishes in her six starts. Just last week she finished tied for seventh in Los Angeles after posting 72-74-68-214 to finish 2-under-par and earn $21,201. When her game is on Inkster is tough to catch.
Those to watch this week are:
Sorenstam ' Her confidence is seemingly unshakable and when you look at her 2001 record you begin to see why. So far this year she has finished second twice and first four times in a row. It just doesnt get any better than that.
Pat Hurst ' Denied a victory last week after crumbling during her final round Hurst will be looking to do better than a third place finish. Also take into consideration she has recorded three top ten finishes in the last three events. She may be further motivated by all of the press coverage noting the lack of Americans in the winners circle in 2001.
Lori Kane and Karrie Webb are missing from this weeks field. Kane had a disappointing finish (42nd) at the Nabisco Championship and is taking a few weeks off. Webb, who finished tied for second at Nabisco, is also taking time off.
See who is in this week's field