This Week in Golf - June 7th through June 10th
By Gerard Gallagher
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - LPGA TOUR - MCDONALD'S LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP, Bulle Rock Golf Course, Havre de Grace, Maryland - Last year, Se Ri Pak knocked her approach shot within inches on the first playoff hole to set up a birdie that beat Karrie Webb at the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
It was Pak's fifth major championship -- and the second consecutive thrilling finish to a women's major after Webb holed out for eagle on the 72nd hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship and then beat Lorena Ochoa in a playoff.
A year later, the women's golf landscape looks a little different.
Ochoa, with eight wins over the last 14 months, has overtaken Annika Sorenstam for the world's No. 1 ranking. With Sorenstam battling back and neck injuries, the Mexican star has even cemented her spot at the top.
But one thing Ochoa doesn't have -- something Sorenstam has 10 times over -- is a major championship. Her previous No. 1 goal was overtaking Sorenstam. Now, it has got to be to win a major.
Pak, Webb, Sorenstam and Ochoa will be joined in the field this week by the usual LPGA stars, including 17-year-old Michelle Wie, who will be looking to bounce back from her disastrous return -- and withdrawal -- at last week's Ginn Tribute.
The Golf Channel will have three hours of coverage of all four rounds this week, beginning at 12:30 p.m. (et) on Thursday and Friday and at 4:00 p.m. on both weekend days.
The tour's next stop is in two weeks at the Wegman's LPGA, where Jeong Jang won last year.
STANFORD ST. JUDE CHAMPIONSHIP, TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee - When he won last year, Jeff Maggert became the first champion of the Stanford St. Jude Classic not to reach double digits under par since the tournament moved to TPC Southwind in 1989.
Maggert shot a five-under 65 Sunday to beat Tom Pernice, Jr. by two shots at nine-under 271.
The PGA Tour's Memphis stop was pushed back two weeks this year in a schedule re-shuffle ahead of the U.S. Open. It may have taken a hit already after Phil Mickelson withdrew from last week's Memorial with a left wrist injury.
As of Monday, Mickelson's name was still listed in the field. But in a release posted on his Web site last Friday, he said his chances of playing this week were "50-50."
Without Mickelson, the highest-ranked player in the field this week would be No. 4 Adam Scott, who was one of a handful of players edged by K.J. Choi at the Memorial on Sunday.
The Golf Channel will have live coverage and replays of the first two rounds, and CBS will broadcast the weekend action.
Next week is the season's second major, the U.S. Open at Oakmont. Geoff Ogilvy won last year's U.S. Open after Mickelson's now-infamous collapse on the 72nd hole at Winged Foot.
BA-CA GOLF OPEN, Fontana Golf Club, Vienna, Austria - Ireland's Padraig Harrington won the Irish Open. Welshman Bradley Dredge nearly claimed his own national title at the Wales Open. This week, Markus Brier will be attempting to accomplish something a little different.
The Austrian will be looking to defend a history-making title he won last year.
"I had tears in my eyes on the 18th green," Brier gushed after last season's BA-CA Open, where he beat Soren Hansen by three shots with a three-under 68 on Sunday.
Not only was it Brier's first European Tour win -- he had won the event twice when it was part of the Challenge Tour -- but it was also the first win of any kind by an Austrian on the circuit's international schedule.
Since then, Brier has won the Volvo China Open (in April) and posted a handful of other top finishes to make a berth in the next Ryder Cup a real possibility.
He would be the first-ever Austrian member of the Ryder Cup.
"To play in The Ryder Cup would be a dream come true and the wins have brought me nearer to believing I can do it," he told the European Tour. "When I came on tour seven years ago I was far away from even winning a tournament, but you have to keep believing in yourself and that is what I have done."
This week, he will be joined in the field by three members of the last European Ryder Cup team: Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood.
The Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds. Next week, the European Tour schedule has two official events: the U.S. Open and the Aa St. Omer Open.
PRINCIPLE CHARITY CLASSIC, Glen Oaks Country Club, West Des Moines, Iowa - The Principle Charity Classic is a new event on the Champions Tour schedule this year. It replaces the old Allianz Championship, which relocated to Boca Raton, Florida.
Gil Morgan won the Allianz last year with rounds of 66-64-67 at Glen Oaks, beating Loren Roberts by one shot for his 24th Champions Tour title and first victory in two years.
Only Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino have won more times on the Champions Tour.
The Golf Channel will have two hours of coverage Friday, then three hours on both weekend days. Next up for the Champions Tour is the Bank of America Championship in two weeks. That event was cancelled last year because of flooding.
REX HOSPITAL OPEN, TPC Wakefield Plantation, Raleigh, North Carolina - Brendan Pappas will return to defend his first Nationwide Tour win this week at the Rex Hospital Open.
Pappas had three runner-up finishes on the Nationwide Tour before he broke through at this event last year. He fired four rounds in the 60s to edge Charlie Wi by one shot.
This is the 14th year for this tournament and its seventh straight at the TPC Wakefield Plantation.
Next for the Nationwide Tour is the Showdown at Somerby.
DURAMED FUTURES TOUR
UNITED STATES STEEL GOLF CLASSIC, Lost Marsh Golf Course, Hammond, Indiana - The ninth Futures Tour event of the 2007 season will take place this week with a $75,000 purse up for grabs at the United States Steel Golf Classic.
Last year, Ashley Prange won this event when it was called the Horseshoe Casino Futures Golf Classic. Prange also won the Golf Channel's Big Break V: Hawaii series in 2006.
Next up for the Futures Tour is the Michelob ULTRA Duramed Futures Players Championship, which features a season-high $105,000 purse.
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