The LPGA Tour returns to the San Francisco Bay area this week for the Longs Drugs Challenge. For the second time, Blackhawk Country Club will be the venue. Karrie Webb edged Annika Sorenstam by one stroke in last year’s event. The 72-hole event begins Thursday with taped-delayed coverage on The Golf Channel starting at 8:30pm EDT.
Blackhawk is a par-72 6212-yard layout with severe elevation changes. In fact, several holes have areas that are inaccessible to the spectators because of the terrain. Carts were used to move players between some of the holes last year in an effort to speed up play. The average score here in 2006 was 73.181 – 0.22 above the full-season average of 72.961, which doesn’t look like much but means that Blackhawk was a fairly tough test.
With the Samsung being contested next week, a lot of the top players are in the field here to tune up. Annika Sorenstam, Angela Park and Sherri Steinhauer are the only Top 20 players missing. With ROY Park finally taking an event off, that leaves Kyeong Bae and Diana D’Alessio as the only players to play every tournament so far in 2007.
I know you’re getting tired of the same old choice to win every week, and I wish I didn’t have to force it on you again. Just think about it – if you had to choose a player to win this tournament and your house was riding on it, how could you possibly NOT choose Lorena Ochoa? There are a few other players who are reasonable choices to win but they only have that chance if Lorena plays poorly in at least one of the four rounds. She did that at Navistar and was still in contention until the final hole. My CYAs are Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen.
Stats: Winners 6-23 (8-23 with CYAs), Top Tens 35-67.