SYLVANIA, Ohio -- Na Yeon Choi might be from South Korea, but she’s beginning to think of the Toledo area as a second home.
Not only did she win the most recent Jamie Farr Toledo Classic two years ago, but the week after she revisited the course for a media day last month she turned around and won the U.S. Women’s Open the next week at Blackwolf Run for her first major title.
“This is something special for me,” she said.
Choi won the 2010 Jamie Farr, beating Christina Kim, In-Kyung Kim and Song-Hee Kim — three Kims, none related — with a birdie on the second sudden-death playoff hole.
The Jamie Farr wasn’t held a year ago while the city hosted the men’s U.S. Senior Open. A strong field is on hand for the 27th annual tournament at Highland Meadows Golf Club. The first round is Thursday.
This year’s field includes eight of the top 10, 15 of the top 20 and 23 of the top 30 players on the LPGA money list.
The local favorite is Stacy Lewis, born in Toledo and No. 1 in earnings. Yani Tseng, tops in the world rankings, is also on hand along with 2008 Farr winner Paula Creamer.
Choi played in the Evian Masters two weeks ago, then traveled from the course in France to the Olympics in London.
“I went to indoor volleyball games twice. I have a lot of friends that play (for South Korea) so I watched the two games and they won,” said Choi. “Then I watched handball with Norway and the 200-meter freestyle swimming and Korean Tae Hwan Park, he won a silver medal.”
Lewis is followed around by a large crowd of relatives and friends who wear T-shirts supporting her.
“My family is here and I was born here so it just has a lot of special meaning for me,” said Lewis, a native Texan who now lives in Florida. “My family is so excited to come out they have been working on their shirts for two years.”
Tseng has won three times this year, but has struggled in her last four starts, never finishing inside the top 50 while missing two cuts.
Creamer hasn’t won in 2012, but does have five top-10 finishes. She shot a sterling 60 in the opening round four years ago and led from wire to wire.
Her career-best round is still a fond memory.
“At the time I didn’t even realize that I shot 60,” she said. “It was about the 15th hole and I remember thinking, ‘Man, there are a lot of circles (birdies) on this card.’ And I just kept on going.”
She came back the next day with a solid round that made her pause.
“I shot 65 the next day and it felt like I shot 100,” she said with a laugh.
Five-time winner Se Ri Pak skipped the tournament to take a break while recovering from a shoulder injury. Besides Creamer and Choi, the only other past winners in the field are Heather Bowie Young (2005) and Laura Davies (1988).