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Joo Mi Kim set for SBS Open defence

South Korea's Joo Mi Kim has returns to defend her LPGA SBS Open title this week against a strong field of challengers led by Mexico's Lorena Ochoa and Australian Karrie Webb.

Kim outlasted Mexico's Ochoa and fellow Korean Soo Young Moon with two birdies in a sudden death playoff last year to claim her first LPGA tour title.

"I came back here hoping that I will be in the same position on Saturday night after the round as last year," said Kim, adding that getting that early win was a big confidence booster for the rest of her 2006 season.

"I think it took a lot of pressure off of me," she said. "I enjoyed the season throughout the year just because I had a win at the beginning of the year."

She'll have her work cut out repeating that pattern this year.

Ochoa, 25, won six tournaments to claim the 2006 Player of the Year title. She finished the season with 20 top-10 finishes in 25 starts.

She isn't the only player bidding to pick up where she left off.

Hall of Famer Karrie Webb of Australia had five victories last year and finished second to Ochoa on the money list.

She is already off to a fast start in 2007, with two tournament victories in "I had a couple of months off during the off-season and to have the start I've had is very exciting," said Webb, who won the Australian Women's Open and ANZ Ladies Masters this month.

"You hope that the game is still there after being away from tournament golf for a few months, but to win twice was a little bit unexpected. I'm happy about it and I will take it."

Also in the field is 20-year-old Julieta Granada, who became the first player in women's professional golf to win a one million-dollar first prize when she captured the season-ending ADT championship in November.

She, too, has made a promising start to 2007, teaming with fellow Paraguayan Celeste Troche to win the Women's World Cup of Golf in South Africa in January


February 15, 2007

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