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Annika Returning to Action in NY

CORNING, N.Y. -- Annika Sorenstam returns to action this week, with the task of defending another tournament. She is already one-for-one in title defenses this year, but has seven more to defend starting this week with the LPGA Corning Classic.
Sorenstam has started 2005 on a tear, winning four of her first five tournaments, and so far this year her only real competition has been history. When Sorenstam played this tournament a year ago, she had 50-career wins. Now she has 60 and has ascended all the way to third place on the all-time wins list.
Mickey Wright with 82 wins and Kathy Whitworth with 88 are the only ones ahead of her, but the way Sorenstam is playing, what were once thought to be untouchable numbers are now suddenly on the horizon. Sorenstam says breaking Whitworth's record is not a goal of hers, as she prefers to focus on one event at a time, but if she keeps winning at her current pace then the greatest-of-all-time talks and Whitworth's record will certainly come more into focus.
This week, Sorenstam is concentrating on the LPGA Corning Classic, an event she played for the first time last year since 1995 and ended up winning by two. She arrived Wednesday evening and then teed it up Thursday in the first round without the benefit of a practice round and without seeing the course in nine years.
Sorenstam's last LPGA appearance was two weeks ago at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez. She ran away from the field, winning by 10 shots and further cementing her spot as the world's most dominant golfer. Sorenstam has won eight of her last 11 tournaments, which includes a record-tying five consecutive wins.
The LPGA Corning Classic is one of the LPGA's most historic events. The tournament started in 1979 and has been played at Corning Country Club every year. The purse the first year was $100,000 with the winner earning $15,000. This year the tournament boasts a $1.1 million purse and the winner's share is $165,000.
A Sorenstam win would easily push her over the $1 million mark in single-season earnings, but a victory will only come after four days of hard work and low scores. Five of the last eight LPGA Corning Classic champions, as well as last year's runner-ups Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and Michelle Estill, are in the field and will all be trying to make sure that Sorenstam has one less tournament to defend in 2006.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Corning Classic