As Laura Diaz steps to the stage for the second title defense of her career, she is joined by numerous LPGA stars, including four winners from 2003, four LPGA Tour Hall of Famers, 24 of the top 30 from the ADT Official Money List and 12 of the past tournament winners.
Diaz, who won her second career title at the 2002 LPGA Corning Classic, has had a successful start to the 2003 season. She is ranked 17th on the ADT Official Money List, and most recently had her season-best finish at the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship at Mount Vintage, where she tied for third.
The four 2003 winners ready to challenge Diaz are Wendy Doolan, Welchs/Frys Championship; Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, Kraft Nabisco Championship; Candie Kung, LPGA Takefuji Classic; and Rosie Jones, Asahi Ryokuken International Championship at Mount Vintage.
With experience and remarkable credits to their name, LPGA Tour Hall of Famers JoAnne Carner, Beth Daniel, Juli Inkster and Betsy King are also in the field.
Karrie Webb, who has achieved the performance qualifications for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame but has yet to fulfill the 10-year membership requirement, will highlight the tournament in search of her first official victory since the 2002 Weetabix Womens British Open, one of the LPGAs four majors.
Webb won the 2003 ConAgra Foods LPGA Skins Game in January, and unofficial event.
The LPGA Corning Classic benefits 11 area hospitals, Rotary Camp Star for disabled children and Lions Club sight preservation programs. Since the first event in 1979, the tournament has donated more than $3.6 million to charity.
Annika Sorenstam, who will miss the LPGA Corning Classic while competing on the PGA Tour this week, has pledged to donate half of whatever she earns at the Bank of America Colonial to the LPGA Corning Classic charities.
The LPGA Corning Classic is one of the LPGAs longest-running events. For non-major championships, only the Safeway Classic (1972), Mizuno Classic (1973), State Farm Classic (1976) and Wegmans Rochester LPGA (1977) are older.
The LPGA Corning Classic, however, has the distinction of being the only event of those five with the same title sponsor and tournament name since its inception.
In 2002, Scotia, N.Y.-native Diaz posted a thrilling two-stroke win over Jones. Diaz gave her local following of Lauras Legions something to cheer about, capping off her second career LPGA victory with an impressive six-footer for birdie on the final hole. Diaz, at 274 (-14), outlasted Jones, nicknamed the Queen of Corning, who posted the 11th top-10 finish in Corning of her career.
Statistical Preview of The LPGA Corning Classic