Sports Outside the Beltway

Annika Sorenstam turns down Samsung World Championship Invitation

From AP-

Annika Sorenstam has turned down an invitation to the Samsung World Championship, not wanting to cause hardship with any players who felt she might be taking their spot in the 20-player elite field.

Sorenstam did not want to cause upset by accepting an invitation to the Samsung tournament.

In an effort to upgrade the event, tournament organizers last week eliminated a criteria that had not been used in nine years — the option to exempt the U.S. Women’s Amateur champion — and replaced it with an exemption for an active Hall of Fame member.

That spot went to Sorenstam, inducted in 2003 and a five-time winner of the Samsung World Championship.

Mark Steinberg, head of the golf division at IMG and the Swede’s agent, said the Swede became concerned last week upon hearing that some players were told the top 18 on the LPGA Tour money list would get in to the event at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif.

The rest of the field is comprised of the defending champion, four major champions, leader on the Ladies European Tour money list, one special exemption (Michelle Wie), and the rest coming from the money list.

“She didn’t want the perception that she was taking a spot,” Steinberg said. “She decided to do what’s best for the LPGA.”

Sarah Lee will now get the last spot in the field. Yes, there is a Korean LPGA player by that name. Sarah, who’s Korean name is Jung Yeon, was born in London England.

Annika made the right move. The special treatment she was getting wasn’t fair to other LPGA players and not just Sarah Lee. There were two LPGA Hall of Famers, Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb in front of her on the money list who weren’t eligible for the Samsung but were being passed over for an invite. All of this was liable to cause resentment but now all is right on tour.

I do wonder how many more LPGA events Annika will play in 2007. She is a five-time winner of the Mizuno Championship in Japan, but Annika normally skips the Tournament of Champions and is at present borderline for making the ADT Championship.(11th in the standings for 13 spots) Based on Annika’s record at Mizuno, I think she will make the ADT unless some other players make a late surge.

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