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Top field set for Wegmens LPGA tournament

World number one Lorena Ochoa, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and 2006 champion Jeong Jang lead an impressive field at the 1.8 million-dollar Wegmans LPGA tournament that begins here Thursday.

Pettersen won the LPGA Championship two weeks ago and would have been trying for her third major title of the year at next week's US Women's Open had she not squandered a four-stroke lead on the back nine of March's Kraft Nabisco.

"Everything that I do this week will be preparation for next week," said Pettersen. "It's one of my favorite courses. It's a good warm up.

"They can make this course pretty tough. It prepares everybody's head for the Open. They can make the fairways narrow. They can make the rough pretty thick and the greens are rolling pretty quick."

Pettersen won her first LPGA event last month at Williamsburg, Virginia, and is the only player other than Ochoa, the top-ranked Mexican who also leads the tour money list with 1.25 million dollars, with two titles in 2007.

Along with a prize money jump to second with 1.02 million dollars, Pettersen's confidence was boosted by the breakthrough major victory.

"It felt good to have a week off. I let it sink in and enjoyed it more," she said. "I've been working hard for a lot of years. All of a sudden it has just come together. The better you play the more confidence you get.

"Coming down the stretch (at the LPGA) I was really calm. I learned from what I did at Nabisco. We have 15 events left. Now it's a question of how many can you actually win during a season. We have two majors left so that's good."

Ochoa won here in 2005 and she has 10 top-10 finishes this year, vaulting her past injured Swedish star Annika Sorenstam into the top ranking spot, one that makes her a target for every rival.

"It's for sure where I like to be and I'd like to stay there," Ocoha said. "I understand the competition is really tough. There are good players trying to catch me. So I'm going to keep working hard to make sure that happens."

Jang edged Paraguay's Julieta Granada by a stroke last year for the victory here. The South Korean standout is confident after her triumph last year and because the conditions are tough and target areas are small.

"I like a tight, narrow course and I like a small green," Jang said. "I don't like a course like 20-under. I like to have to shoot 3- or 4-under. That's fair to everybody, tight and small greens like a special challenge."


June 21, 2007

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