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LPGA Has a New York State of Mind

2006 Corning ClassicCORNING, N.Y. -- Mi Hyun Kim, an eight-time tour winner, and SBS Open at Turtle Bay champion Paula Creamer headline the field at this week's 29th annual LPGA Corning Classic at the Corning Country Club in Corning, N.Y. They are among 144 players competing for the $1.3 million purse.
Noticeably absent from the field this year is defending champion Hee-Won Han. Han only played five events this season'her last appearance was a tie for 49th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship'due to her first pregnancy. Last year, Han won the event in a four-hole, sudden-death playoff with Meena Lee. The pair entered the playoff at 15-under 273 and each made par the first three holes. Lee bogeyed the fourth playoff hole and Han walked away with her fifth-career win and third victory in a playoff.
Lee, a rookie on tour in 2005, has posted strong finishes at Corning and has never finished lower than runner-up. This could be Lee's year in Corning as she looks to add $195,000 to her season earnings on Sunday.
Entering the week ranked 10th on the LPGA Official Money List, Kim earned her eighth-career win and first of the season a few weeks ago at the SemGroup Championship Presented by John Q. Hammons, in Broken Arrow, Okla. She edged-out LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster in a one-hole, sudden-death playoff to get the win.
Creamer, meanwhile, will be making her first appearance at the Corning Country Club. The 2005 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year has four top-10 finishes this year including her win in Hawaii. A win this week would be her second season with multiple wins in less than three years on Tour, as she won the 2005 Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury and Evian Masters.
Rookie Angela Park will also make her Corning debut this week. She has dominated the race for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, accumulating 309 points on the strength of one top-10 finish. In her first 10 events as an LPGA professional, she has made every cut. She currently holds a 196-point lead over Na On Min, who is her nearest competitor with 113 points. Not far behind, though, is In-Kyung Kim with 110 points.
Four past champions of the LPGA Corning Classic are in the field this week, notably Jimin Kang (2005), Carin Koch (2001) and Kelli Kuehne (1999), who each were Rolex First-Time Winners at the event. Sherri Turner (1988) rounds out the list.
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