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Kim Eyes Consecutive Giant Eagle LPGA Titles

VIENNA, Ohio ' Mi Hyun Kim defends the first of two 2002 titles this week at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic in Vienna, Ohio. Kim, who won two of the three LPGA Tour events in the Buckeye State last year, is a five-time LPGA champion and is looking to successfully defend a title for the first time in her young career.
Picking up that first back-to-back win will not be easy, as an elite field has descended upon Squaw Creek Country Club for the 54-hole, $1 million event. Headlining the field is the worlds best female player and last weeks major championship winner, Annika Sorenstam, who is making her first appearance at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic since 1998, when she tied for ninth place.
That was the same year Se Ri Pak began a winning streak of Ohio tournaments that has yet to stop. In 1998, Pak won both Ohio events in which she competed'the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic and the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic'and she has basically made a nice career from Ohio tournaments since. The 20-time LPGA Tour champion has won four of her 16 starts in Ohio, collecting $803,958 in the state. That amount alone would place her 143rd on the LPGA career money list out of 570 players. It is safe to say the four-time major championship winner is one of the favorites this week.
Fellow 2003 tournament champions Wendy Doolan, Candie Kung and Grace Park join Sorenstam and Pak in the field. Additionally, LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Beth Daniel is competing this week. Daniel won the inaugural Giant Eagle LPGA Classic in 1990. She is joined in the field by six other past champions: Tammie Green (1994, 1997); Michelle McGann (1995-96); Pak (1998); Jackie Gallagher-Smith (1999); Dorothy Delasin (2000-01) and Kim (2002).
This year has been a successful one for Kim, as she has consistently climbed her way up the ADT Official Money List. She has three top 10s this year, including a tie for third at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic two weeks ago. History is on Kims side this week, as the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic has played host to back-to-back winners in recent years. Delasin accomplished the feat from 2000-01 and was close last year, finishing in a tie for third. McGann posted back-to-back wins from 1995-96.
Last year, it was a duel between Kim and Kelly Robbins for all 54 holes, but in the end it was the pint-sized Korean who claimed the $150,000 first-place check. Robbins, along with Beth Bader, led Kim by one after a tournament record 8-under-par 64 in the first round. Robbins and Kim both fired 68s in Round 2, and Robbins entered the final round with a one-shot edge. The final round belonged to Kim, as she pulled ahead of Robbins on the 17th hole with a birdie and then watched Robbins attempt to force a playoff stop just shy of the hole on 18.
Delasin and Park tied for third after carding matching five-under-par 67s in the final round, three strokes behind Kim at 205 (-11).