The first big tournament of the LPGA season is the LPGA’s Safeway International presented by Coca Cola . (Interestingly, Safeway also has a tournament in August called the Safeway Classic presented by Pepsi Cola).
At any rate, it’s going to have what is probably the best field thus far this year, with the top 40 players from the 2006 money list. The only real big name missing is Michelle Wie, who’s out on an injury. Interestingly, she also missed last year’s Safeway.
It’s also is the first 72 hole tournament of the year for the LPGA.
The Safeway is held at the Prospector Course, a Nicklaus design in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains. It’ll play as a 6,629 yard par 72.
The Safeway International started in 1980 as a one-day Pro-Am at the Hillcrest Golf Course. Jan Stephenson (of the golf balls in the bathtub fame) was the first champion taking home—get this—$15,000 of the $100,000 purse. It became a full tournament in 1983 when Banner Health became the sponsor. In 1986, Standard Register became the title sponsor and raised the purse to $250,000. Safeway became the sole title sponsor in 2004, after sharing the title in 2003 with Ping.
The tournament has its greatest claim to fame as the place where Annika Sorenstam shot a magical 59—becoming the first woman to do so in a competitive round.
This year’s purse is $1.5 million, and the winner will take home more than twice the total purse in 1980. Juli Inkster is the defending champion.