McGann seeks to win tournament for third consecutive year
WARREN, Ohio (AP) _ Michelle McGann will be going against 143 other players _ and history _ in the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic at Avalon Lakes Golf Course.
McGann will attempt to become only the fifth player in LPGA history to win the same tournament three years in a row when she plays in the 54-hole event that begins Friday.
LPGA star Laura Davies racked up a victory in the Standard Register PING event earlier this year for her fourth straight win in the event _ becoming the first player ever to so dominate a tour stop.
Other three-time back-to-back winners include Louise Suggs in the Dallas Civitan Open (1959-61), Kathy Whitworth in the Orange Blossom Classic (1968-70) and Sandra Haynie in the Charity Golf Classic (1973-75).
To join that elite group, McGann will also have to beat a strong field which includes two past champions who are currently on hot streaks.
Nancy Lopez and Tammie Green have already won on the tour this year. Lopez won the rain-shortened Chick-fil-A Charity Championships, her first victory since winning the Warren tournament in 1993. Lopez was also second at the U.S. Open earlier this month.
Green, who won the tournament in 1994, won the Sprint Titleholders Championship in May and finished second in the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic earlier this month.
Other past champions in the field include Betsy King, Beth Daniel and Deb Richard.
McGann beat Katie Peterson-Parker _ who had led by two strokes coming to the final tee _ on the third playoff hole to win the 1995 tournament. Last year, a closing-round 7-under-par 65 gave her a three-stroke victory over Kim Saiki.
The tournament was previously known as the Phar-Mor Classic and the Youngstown-Warren LPGA Classic. This is its first year with Giant Eagle as the title sponsor.
The Avalon Lakes course apparently will serve as the site of the tournament for the next several years.
LPGA commissioner Jim Ritts announced Wednesday that the LPGA has reached an agreement in principle with the Mahoning Valley Sports Charities to continue the tournament in the Youngstown-Warren area through 2001.
``This tournament is one of the backbones of the LPGA,″ Ritts said. ``Just the fact that in four years it has raised nearly $1 million for charity says more than enough about the tournament and how it is operated.″
Ritts said he expects crowds for this year’s tournament to be even larger than in recent years.
``The people here make you feel welcome, and that is why this tournament is so successful and that’s why the players just love to come here every year,″ he said.