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Americans 0-10 on LPGA Tour so far

The 2001 LPGA season hasn't been kind to the Americans.

Foreign players have swept the first 10 tournaments going into this week's Kathy Ireland Championship honoring Harvey Penick.

And considering tournament history -- England's Laura Davies is the defending champion and Japan's Akiko Fukushima won in 1999 -- this might not be the best place for the streak to end.

``It's quite funny for us,'' Davies said today.

``There's nothing wrong with the American players, they're playing very well. The fact of the matter is the top international players are playing better,'' she said. ``A lot of these American players are my friends so I'm not glad they're not winning (but) I do like it when my European friends win.''

Sweden's Annika Sorenstam has been largely responsible for the Americans' losing streak.

Her dominating run of four consecutive victories kept everyone else - American or otherwise - from winning.

It took Korea's Se Ri Pak to snap the streak last week at the Longs Drug Challenge. It was Pak's second victory of the year and moved her to second on the money list, where international players hold six of the top 10 spots.

Sorenstam won't play in Austin but Pak will.

Dottie Pepper is one of the Americans most likely to end the losing streak. She's the highest ranking American on the money list (fourth) and finished second to Davies here a year ago.

She's also the last American to win an LPGA tournament, the 2000 Arch Wireless Championship last November.

``I'd like to see that streak end,'' said Pepper, who insisted it is more important to the media than the American players.

``I think it's a credit to the LPGA tour. This is where everybody has to come prove themselves,'' she said. ``It would be hard to go a stretch without foreign players winning.''

Pepper has come close to victory this year with four top 10 finishes. She twice finished tied for second during Sorenstam's streak.

Pepper noted that most of the international players who have won this year live in the United States. Sorenstam lives in Nevada, Pak lives in Florida, Korea's Grace Park in Arizona and Sweden's Sophie Gustafson in Chicago.

``It must be a pretty darn good place to be,'' Pepper said.

LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said this week the international influence is good for the tour.

``It's absolutely good for the tour,'' Votaw said. ``It's a long year. This is a snapshot in time, and by the end of the year, I don't think the Americans are going to go 0 for 41. But what's happened to this point portends well for the entire tour. It just shows how deep and strong the overall play has been.''

Davies, who keeps her home in England, says it's just a matter of time before an American claims another winner's check.

``It's just one of those weird streaks,'' Davies said. ``The American's aren't necessarily playing badly, they're just not finishing the job off.''

 


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