Defending champion Se Ri Pak will be gunning for her sixth Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic title this week, but she won t have to worry about the young LPGA star who put the most heat on her during last year s final round.
Morgan Pressel, who earned $119,590 for finishing second a year ago, will not play at Highland Meadows. She instead has accepted an appearance fee to play in the AIB Ladies Irish Open this week at Portmarnock Links in Dublin.
Irish Open sponsors felt it was important to draw a young American star to help rejuvenate women s golf in the country and build momentum before Ireland hosts the Solheim Cup in 2011.
That event, the ladies version of the Ryder Cup, will be staged at Killeen Castle in County Meath.
Suzann Pettersen of Norway, the winner of the 2007 LPGA Championship and the third-ranked women s golfer in the world, and No. 10 Maria Hjorth of Sweden were announced as entries in the Irish Open at the same time as Pressel. Presumably, they also accepted appearance fees.
It is likely Pressel will remain in Europe to play in the Evian Masters, an LPGA major championship July 24-27 in France, and the Women s British Open the following week at Sunningdale in England.
It s disappointing that Morgan decided to play in the Irish Open rather than coming back to a tournament she came very close to winning just one year ago, Farr Classic director Judd Silverman said.
Pressel carded rounds of 68-70-64-68 for a 14-under 270 tournament, good for solo second, three shots behind Pak.
Unless one should advance from tomorrow s Farr Classic qualifying tournament at Sylvania Country Club, there will be no amateur in the Farr for the first time in a decade.
Stacy Lewis, a native Toledoan who moved away when she was 2, played as a sponsor exemption and an amateur in each of the past two Farr Classics and she received a sponsor exemption for this year s event as well.
But she declared herself a professional when signing up for a U.S. Women s Open qualifying tournament. She went on to be the 54-hole leader in the Open before settling for a tie for third place and a $162,487 payday in her first tournament as a pro.
Lewis, who recently graduated from the University of Arkansas, where she was an NCAA champion, closed her amateur career by posting a 5-0 record competing for the U.S. Curtis Cup team on May 30-June 1 at the Old Course at St. Andrews. The Americans defeated Great Britain-Ireland 13-7.
The Farr s other sponsor exemption this year is Michelle Wie, also a professional.
The Farr Classic celebrates the 20th anniversary of its affiliation with Highland Meadows Golf Club this week.
The Farr began in 1984 at Glengarry Country Club, now called Stone Oak. The tournament relocated to Highland Meadows in Sylvania for the 1989 edition and has been contested there ever since.
The relationship always been very positive, Silverman said. I think it has been a win-win business situation for both the tournament and the club.
The Meadows dates to 1925, when its course was designed by Harold Weber, Toledo s first prolific amateur golf champion. It has long been considered one of the top layouts in the area.
No matter when we have played the tournament June, July or August and regardless of the weather obstacles we ve faced, the golf course is always in superb condition, Silverman said. It s a shot-makers course and I know the LPGA players always enjoy coming back.
Tournament-goers will get a first look this week at Highland Meadows renovated back porch and dining facilities.
The musical group Hootie & The Blowfish will headline the entertainment at Tuesday night s Merrill Lynch Gala Dinner at the SeaGate Centre. And the three original band members will take part in the week s big celebrity golf event, too.
Lead singer Darius Rucker, bassist Dean Felber and guitarist Mark Bryan will join tournament host Jamie Farr in Tuesday s Image Group Celebrity/LPGA Challenge. Songwriter-actor Paul Williams and former University of Toledo quarterback Chuck Ealey will also take part in the event, which is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Highland Meadows.
The complete roster of LPGA pros competing in the event was not available at presstime, but Hall-of-Famer Nancy Lopez and 2005 Farr champion Heather Young are expected to participate.
The Farr Classic this week expects to surpass the $6 million mark in money raised for local children s charities since the tournament began in 1984.
The 2008 charities that will benefit from the Farr include Anne Grady Services, Assistance Dogs of America, Bittersweet Farms, Inc., East Toledo Family Center, Kids Unlimited, Area Office on Aging Kinship Navigator Program, Lourdes College Children s Education Outreach Program, Miracle League of NW Ohio, Serenity Farm, Sophia Center, Toledo-Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, Toledo Seagate Food Bank, Wood County Gift Exchange, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and the Jamie Farr Scholarship Fund of the Toledo Community Foundation.
The second and third rounds of the Farr Classic will be televised live by ESPN2 with telecast times of 2-4 p.m. on Friday and 4-6 p.m. on Saturday. However, Sunday s final round will be shown on ESPN2 via tape delay from 6-8 p.m.
The final round is scheduled to end by 5 p.m., at which time an awards ceremony will be staged at the 18th green.