The LPGA Tyco/ADT Championship set to debut at Donald Trump's new masterpiece - Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. - boasts a $1-million purse with $215,000 set aside for this years champion.
Pepper captured last years title at LPGA International Legends Course by three strokes over Rachel Teske after recording a four-day total of 9-under-par 279. This time around, Pepper - who has 17 LPGA Tour victories to her credit including two majors - has the home court advantage. She is the only player in the elite 30-woman field to hold a membership at Trump International. Its an advantage that cannot go unnoticed considering the South Florida residents performance last year.
You have to play your way into the Tour Championship. Thats what makes it so special. But in some cases, there are players that failed to finish in the top 30 and now find themselves afforded the opportunity to compete this week; Betsy King (31st) and Moria Dunn (32nd) are two of these players. King and Dunn replace Teske and Mi Hyun Kim.
Se Ri Pak ' second on the money list ' surprised everyone with her announcement to forgo the Championship and return to Korea to be with her family.
Pak withdrew from the event citing a family illness and was replaced by Marisa Baena, 33rd on the money list. Baena is one of the six competitors along with Laura Diaz, Moira Dunn, Cristie Kerr, Jill McGill and Mhairi McKay, who are playing in the championship for the first time. The Columbian native has three top-10 finishes to her credit this season.
In the case of Pat Hurst, five months pregnant with her second child, she had originally planned to forrgo the year-end championship, but then announced later that she felt good enough to play.
'Im feeling fine, Hurst said. This pregnancy is definitely a lot different than the last one. Im carrying the baby a lot higher, which helps.'
Another element that makes the last official money event of the season so special is the race for titles. And although Annika Sorenstam had eliminated all chances of Pak surpassing her on the money list, there was still a slim chance that Se Ri (69.69) could overtake Sorenstam (69.38) in the race for lowest scoring average and deny Ms. 59 the Vare trophy. Now it looks as if Annika 'owner of three Vare trophies (1995-96, 1998) - will add a fourth to her name.
Sorenstam looks to wrap up the year in the same fashion that it began for her. She has already sewn up the money title as well as Player of the Year and is in good position to break the record scoring average set by Karrie Webb in 1999 (69.43). With eight victories to her credit this season alone, Sorenstam is less than $10,000 shy of becoming the first woman to earn $2 million in one season.
Past winners of the six-year-old LPGA Tour Championship include Se Ri Pak 1999, Laura Davies 1998, Annika Sorenstam 1997 and Karrie Webb 1996. All four of these ladies won the tournament while it was played at the Desert Inn Golf Course in Las Vegas.
Trump International opened on Nov. 1, 1999. The Tom Fazio design incorporates over 1,000 live oaks, 800 coconut palms and 775 royal palms into the 6,413-yard, par 72 design. Two-and-a-half million cubic yards of sand were moved to create the highest elevation peak in South Florida. Although every hole is considered a signature hole, the 50-foot high waterfall behind the 17th green is one of the most memorable.