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Jimin Kang set for Corning Classic defence

South Korea's Jimin Kang hopes a return to the scene of her first LPGA Tour victory this week will prove propitious.

Kang launches her defence of the title at the 1.2 million-dollar Corning Classic on Thursday

Last year, she started the final round three strokes behind France's Karine Icher.

She was a shot off the lead when she came to the 125-yard, par-3 15th hole, where she fired a 9-iron for her first career hole-in-one.

Kang went on to post a two-shot victory over fellow South Korea Meena Lee and 2004 champion Annika Sorenstam of Sweden.

"It is awesome to be back here and especially with the beautiful weather," Kang said. "I'm a little stressed out, but I can handle it."

Kang has not come close to picking up her second LPGA victory this season, as she has struggled to one top 10 finish in 11 events.

Her tie for ninth at the Takefuji Classic is her only finish better than 31st this season.

Although Kang is coming off a missed cut at the Sybase Classic last week, she said she still had confidence in her game.

"I am hitting solid, like I said before. I just have not been able to make any putts and it's driving me nuts," Kang said. "But it's golf, what can I say? Hopefully it will be this week that the ball will be dropping in the hole. That will be great."

Should Kang successfully defend her title, she would be just the second player to do so this year. Sorenstam claimed her second straight MasterCard Classic crown in March.

Sorenstam is not in the field this week.

Also missing are Mexico's Lorena Ochoa, winner of the Sybase Classic last week, and Australian Hall of Famer Karrie Webb.

Ochoa and Webb are the only multiple winners on tour this season.

Among those joining Kang in the field are Natalie Gulbis and teenage rookie Morgan Pressel, who both are seeking their first LPGA victories.

May 25, 2006


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