Annika Sorenstam has locked up her record-equalling seventh LPGA Tour Player of the Year Award, leaving in her wake a battle for second place in the standings that continues this week at the US$800,000 Tournament of Champions.
Sorenstam isn't entered this week after notching her seventh win of the season in last week's Mizuno Classic. She has 306.08 points in the Player of the Year system, which is based upon top-10 finishes.
Players are awarded 30 points for finishing first, 12 for second and nine for third. A fourth-place finish warrants seven points, with points decreasing by increments of one through 10th place.
With 201.33 points, South Korean Grace Park has a seemingly comfortable lead of 45.48 over Mexico's Lorena Ochoa with two tournaments remaining. But with points doubled in next week's ADT Championship, several players are still mathematically alive in the hunt to finish runner-up.
Ochoa is third with 155.85 points, followed by Meg Mallon (140.50), Cristie Kerr (129.00) and Briton Karen Stupples (113.50).
Park, who can clinch second with a victory here, has been on a roll recently. She has finished in the top two in each of the last three tournaments, sandwiching a pair of seconds around her second victory of the year in the CJ Nine Bridges Classic.
The 25-year-old Park, who finished third behind Sorenstam and South Korean Se Ri Pak in last year's Player of the Year standings, is second on this year's money list with nearly US$1.5 million, a US$75,000 edge over Ochoa.
Ochoa, last year's Rookie of the Year, has 18 top-10 finishes in 25 tournaments this year. Ochoa, who will turn 23 on Monday, leads the tour with 19 eagles and needs only six birdies to break Maria Hjorth's record of 408 set in 1999.
Mallon, Kerr and Stupples have combined for eight wins this year. However, the trio has come up empty since Kerr's victory in the State Farm Classic over two months ago.
Those eligible for second in the Player of the Year rankings will have to contend with a possible rematch between Dorothy Delasin and South Korean Hee-Won Han this week.
In last year's event, Han, shot a final-round 68 to force a sudden-death playoff, won by Delasin on the first hole.
Also among the 41-player field here are Amy Alcott and JoAnne Carner as Hall of Famers, winners from this year and the previous three seasons are eligible.