The top thirty LPGA golfers finish off the season in style this weekend at the illustrious 6,506 yard par-72 Trump International Golf Club. Donald Trump will host his fifth ADT event at the beautiful West Palm Beach course.
Annika Sorenstam heads up an exclusive group of competitors as the defending champion of this tenth anniversary ADT Championship. She is also one of the more seasoned tour pros being challenged by a group of youngsters more than ten years her junior. It's Annika versus the new kids on the block.
"Only the "Best of the Best can tee it up in the ADT Championship" stated Championship Director Michael Stearns.
I expect to view exciting golf this weekend. Thank goodness it's televised because the action at last year's ADT was memorable. Starting the day one-stroke ahead of Cristie Kerr and Jennifer Rosales, Annika slipped into a tie forcing a sudden-death playoff with Kerr. A one-hole playoff gave Sorenstam the victory making her a three-time champion at this event.
This time 35-year-old Sorenstam faces off against an elite group of youngsters who have taken the LPGA by storm. Among the top ten golfers on the LPGA ADT Official Money List, Annika is the only player older than 28.
Paula Creamer, second only to Annika, is a 19-year-old teenager. Her rookie season brought two victories on the LPGA tour as well as another two wins internationally. As Annika states, "If you look at the money list Paula Creamer is really the one knocking on the door."
Creamer's remarks regarding her number two status and belief in moving into the number-one spot on the money list were as follows, "I have to work double the amount that Annika does to beat her because right now she is just that step ahead of me." In addition, Creamer remarked, "She should be. This is my first year out here. She has been the number-one player for quite a long time."
The tendency regarding rookie golfers is that they're hot out of the starting gates their first season but mellow under the pressure of the stiff competition. Let's wait until next year to see how Paula reacts to being a "veteran" on the tour. Since Sorenstam is really looking to win the majors, perhaps she will leave the door open for the Pink Panther to move up the money list.
But don't look for Annika to give up so fast. This year alone her statistics are phenomenal. She is currently on track to winning her sixth Vare Trophy which goes to the golfer with the lowest scoring average over 70 rounds played. Sorenstam leads Cristie Kerr by one stroke.
This is Sorenstam's eighth title defense in 2005 earning her a staggering $2.4 million in earnings. She won two major championships this season, both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the McDonald's LPGA Championship. And how can we forget the Swede's recent victory at the Mizuno Classic which she has now won five times in a row! Nope, Annika is not giving up first place without a fight!
Cristie Kerr will also look to finish strong at this weekend's season-ender. Kerr wowed fans with two victories, one at the Michelob Ultra Open in Kingsmill where Big Break winner Danielle Amiee tried unsuccessfully to break into the ranks of the LPGA, and the other at the Wendy's Championship for Children. With earnings of over $1.3 million, Kerr is currently enjoying a great season on the tour.
Twenty-two-year-old Natalie Gulbis will attempt to win her first tournament here this weekend. Although Gulbis ranks high on the money list, she is without a victory. Natalie has had a breakout season. Out of 26 starts she has eleven top-ten finishes and just under $1 million dollars in earnings. With coach Butch Harmon at her side I think that victory is a forgone conclusion but it might not be this season. Patience, determination and skill will get her a trophy.
Youngsters Meena Lee (23) Candie Kung (24) both had terrific seasons. Lee's first victory came at the BMO Financial Group Canadian Women's Open. Kung hasn't won a single event to date but has had seven top-ten finishes out of 24 starts this season and has made just under $750,000. Both will test the great Sorenstam to see if they can topple the veteran on tour.
One of the older veterans on tour, Karrie Webb, will also join in the festivities. Thirty-year-old Webb really needs a win this weekend. This is the first year in her ten years on the professional circuit that she has not won a single LPGA-sanctioned event although she did have a victory early in the season at the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia. Webb was just inducted (and is the youngest member)into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida so now is a good time to turn up the heat, Karrie!
Rosie Jones intends to end her career on a high note at the ADT. It would be great to see the veteran hold up a trophy in her last attempt at glory on the LPGA tour. Of course Juli Inkster has been sharpening her skills since last week's Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions. Winner Christina Kim was crowned "Champion of Champions" last week. Could she be "Best of the Best" this week with back-to-back victories?
With all of the excitement surrounding this final event and a $1 million purse at stake perhaps Annika will show us all a bit of magic by shooting the elusive 54.
The Golf Channel will televise the ADT Championship on November 17th through 19th from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (ET). Final round coverage moves to WABC on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (ET).