Five-time winner Annika Sorenstam was in danger of not playing in that tournament next week. Not anymore.
In an exclusive to mydesert.com, officials of the LPGA event announced a modification of the tournament’s qualifying rules today, in essence creating an exempt category to allow Sorenstam to play in the $1 million tournament Oct. 11-14 at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert.
To make room for Sorenstam, the tournament and the LPGA is now allowing one exemption at the sponsor’s discretion for an active member of the LPGA Hall of Fame.
“We believe this new category will enhance the already elite state of the field,” said tournament director Torrey Gane of International Management Group, the producers of the tournament.
Sorenstam is a five-time winner of the Samsung tournament including twice at Bighorn in 2004 and 2005. But Sorenstam, a former homeowner at Bighorn, had not qualified for the tournament this year after neck injuries knocked her off the tour for two months this summer.
Sorenstam, womenï¿½s golf’s top player for the last 13 years, has not won a tournament this year and is 30th on the money listed entering this week’s Navistar LPGA Classic, where she is not entered. Without the new Hall of Fame criteria, Sorenstam needed to be no worse than 18th on the list at the end of the Navistar tournament.
Gane said the event is not eliminating a spot for another player in the 20-player field, since the tournament has always had the right to invite a top amateur to the field. That category has not been utilized in recent years. Gane said inviting Sorenstam under the new criteria is no different than if the tournament had invited the reigning U.S. Womenï¿½s Amateur champion to the event.
Other exempt players in the field include defending champion Lorena Ochoa, currently the No. 1 player in women’s golf, winners of LPGA major championships this year, Morgan Pressel, Suzann Pettersen and Cristie Kerr, Ladies European Tour order of merit winner Bettina Hauert and one sponsor’s exemption to any player. The remainder of the field is fill through the top money winners on the LPGA who are not otherwise eligible.
Michelle Wie accepted the sponsor’s exemption in March.
“With the LPGA trying to elevate the tournaments and its tour, this is just one of the tangible benefits for a Hall of Fame member,” Gane said.
Now AP’s Doug Ferguson is reporting the exemption this way-
According to the tournament Web site, the only players to have qualified for the Samsung are defending champion Lorena Ochoa; major winners Morgan Pressel, Suzann Pettersen and Cristie Kerr; Bettina Hauert from the LET; and Wie.
With Sorenstam added to the field, that leaves 13 spots available from the American women’s tour order of merit.
So is Annika being granted a spot in the tournament by adding a player to the field or being alloted one of the normal twenty slots? Based on
1- The first article being written out of California where the Samsung Tournament is being played
I’m inclined to believe the Samsung added another player to the field. Several observations on the granting of an exemption to Annika. Note- The following isn’t Annika bashing. I’ll criticize that Swedish golfer when I feel its due. Check this post and its comments section below it for an interesting debate.
*- The tourament inviting Annika in place of US Amateur champion is different. For simple reason, Annika will take home a cut of the tournament’s purse, where as the Amateur Champ wouldn’t
*- Enlarging the field will change what most of the players in the field get for competing that week. How do other Samsung players feel in regards to Annika getting this special exemption?
*- This HOF invitee rule. There are currently four HOF players active and playing well on the LPGA tour at present. Annika, Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster and Se Ri Pak. At present, only Se Ri looks likely to make the Samsung field and that’s iffy at #16. Remember the two articles above contrdict one another as to how many players from the money list will make it. If its only 13 LPGA players from the money list, Se Ri stands at 12th after you remove Pressel, Kerr, Ochoa and Pettersen from the mix. Inkster and Webb stand at 16th and 17th and look likely not to make the Samsung field.
Bottom line- I think the Samsung made a mistake in giving Michelle Wie an exemption. As to giving a HOF exemption, I think it should be extended to all four World Golf Hall of Famers or none at all. This was a last minute addition, and in all fairness shouldn’t be given to Annika like the special handout it looks like it is. I think this is going to cause resentment among certain LPGA players, and it wouldn’t be the first time when it comes to the special treatment Annika Sorenstam gets from the LPGA Tour and Tournament sponsors.
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