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Issues looming over LPGA playoff system

Marisa Baena went from a tie for 20th to second with a 66 to get into the final group of the ADT Championship, one shot behind Annika Sorenstam. Under the new playoff system that begins next year, she would have been gone by the weekend.

Sorenstam closed with a 69 to win by two. Had this been 2006, the $1 million prize would have come down to Michele Redman and Soo-Yun Kang, who each shot 68 on the last day.

"I'm just glad it's 2005, that's all I can say," Sorenstam said.

Baena would have missed out because the 32-player field will be cut to 16 after the second round.

It would have far tougher on Sorenstam, who would have lost out because the final round will be reduced to eight players, and they all start the last day even. Given how much $1 million can spike the money list, Sorenstam could lose out on bonuses tied to her finishing first.

That's what has led to a protest that has the LPGA Tour's attention.

Sorenstam and other players have talked to tour officials about the size of the winner's check at the "LPGA Playoffs at the ADT." The $1 million prize is the largest in women's golf, nearly double the $560,000 check for the U.S. Women's Open. What concerns them is how it could skew the money list.

Sorenstam won nine times going into the ADT; no one else won more than twice. But under the new format, it would have been feasible for Paula Creamer to win the money title.

"I'm of the opinion the money list is important," Lorie Kane said. "I don't think somebody should come out and win $1 million and pass someone who's had an awesome year."

Sorenstam said she thought the first prize was too much.

"I don't mind the first prize being $1 million, but I recommended that maybe $500,000 would count on the money list, and give the player a $500,000 bonus," she said.

Rob Neal, vice president of tournament business affairs, said officials would be talking during the offseason about whether to apply only part of the $1 million toward the money list, and it could be changed before 2006 gets under way.

November 23, 2005

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