LPGA Plays Solheim Warm Up

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With all eyes focused on the Solheim Cup, this week's John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic has great importance on the outcome, as all United States participants along with four European members are scheduled to compete. Not only that, 25 of the top 30 players on the 2003 money list are also battling it out.
 
Leading the way is defending champion and European Solheim Cup member Annika Sorenstam, making her first appearance in the United States since the U.S. Open in July. Since that time, Sorenstam tied for 17th at the Evian Masters, captured the Women's British Open and posted a third at the HP Open on the Ladies European Tour.
 
Last year, Sorenstam carded three straight rounds in the 60s to cruise to a four-shot win over Lorie Kane. In doing so, Sorenstam set a new tournament record of 199, breaking the previous mark of 201 set the year before by Gloria Park. Trailing by four shots after round one, Sorenstam, shot 66-65, including four birdies on the final six holes, as she captured the seventh of her 11 2002 titles.
 
Joanne Mills and Beth Bauer, who finished third and fifth respectively, also shot all three rounds in the 60s.
 
Solheim Cup assistant Jane Geddes along with eight tournament champions from 2003 are scheduled to compete this week.
 
On Saturday afternoon, one lucky participant will win a trip for two to next week's Solheim Cup. All he or she has to do is sink a 75- foot putt on the practice green. If that doesn't work, then the person closest will win two seats on the official LPGA charter flight to Sweden, airport transfer, hotel accommodations and tickets to watch the United States defend The Solheim Cup, at Barsebck Golf and Country Club in Malmo, Sweden. Contestants who finish second through fifth will also receive prizes.
 
The second-place contestant will receive two American Airlines vouchers, while the third-place finisher receives rounds of golf for two at Tulsa Country Club. Fourth place will be rewarded with a complimentary one-night stay at the Renaissance Resort Hotel and Convention Center, Tulsa's only four-diamond hotel, and the fifth-place winner will receive two inside-the-ropes Honorary Observer spots for the tournament on championship Sunday.
 
After 18 years, the LPGA Tour returned to the state of Oklahoma in 2001. The Tour last came through the Sooner State in 1983, when Jan Stephenson captured the last of her three major titles at the U.S. Women's Open at Tulsa's Cedar Ridge Country Club.
 
Next week, the LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour will battle it out at the eighth Solheim Cup matches in Sweden. The next full-field event will be the Safeway Classic, September 26th through 28th in Oregon where Sorenstam is again the defending champion.
 
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