The 54-hole event features a $1.1 million purse, up from $900,000 in 2002.
Annika Sorenstam is the defending champion and looks for her second consecutive win of the season as 144 of the worlds best converge on Sin City, all looking to strike it big. Sorenstam, playing in her fourth event of 2003, has not finished lower than a tie for third. Once again, the Swede is one of the favorites to walk away with the big check, as her worst finish in the LPGA Takefuji Classic is second place.
But then again, this is Las Vegas, the city where anything is possible. So far in 2003, parity has been the main course served on the LPGA. With a different champion every week, it is anyones guess who will be the big winner in the city known for producing them.
Se Ri Pak joins Sorenstam as the 2003 LPGA Tour champions in the field. Pak has proven to be a formidable test for Sorenstam, as she has already chased her down this year in the final round of the Safeway PING Presented by Yoplait to snatch away the title.
Other players featured in the full-field event include LPGA Tour Hall of Famers Amy Alcott, Juli Inkster, Betsy King and Patty Sheehan, as well as past LPGA Takefuji Classic winners Lorie Kane and Karrie Webb. Beth Bauer, Laura Diaz, Natalie Gulbis, Maria Hjorth, Pat Hurst, Lorie Kane, Emilee Klein, Grace Park and Kelly Robbins are also in the field.
Last year, Sorenstam entered the final round trailing Japans Kasumi Fujii by three shots. Fujii would finish with a final- round 2-over-par 72, leaving the battle between Sorenstam and Kane. The two, playing in the same group, traded shot after shot and at the end of 18 holes, there was no champion to be crowned. Sorenstam and Kane were both deadlocked at 14-under par, forcing a sudden-death playoff to decide the winner.
The duo headed back to the 18th hole, and Kane hit her drive into the right rough. Sorenstam placed her tee shot in the middle of the fairway and the advantage shifted her way.
Sorenstam then laid up to 81 yards and hit her sand wedge to four feet of the pin. Kane laid up as well and hit her pitching wedge to 10 feet from the cup. She missed the birdie putt, and the tournament belonged to Sorenstam if she could drop the four-footer for birdie. She did and in doing so, began a journey that would lead her to a record-setting season that included a total of 11 LPGA wins.
Will this years LPGA Takefuji Classic turn up someone elses lucky number, or will the most dominant player in womens golf once again take the prize?