4 old LPGA stops are new again

They're half a world away, but the enthusiasm greeting the start of the LPGA's 63rd season appears as high as any time in recent memory.

The season opener comes Thursday at the Women's Australian Open, one of five new events for 2012 — though "new" might be a relative term. Four of the five, including Australia, are a return to old territory that went without the LPGA for a while.


Also back on the schedule: Hawaii, Toledo and Kingsmill Resort in Virginia.

"We have loyal fan bases in these places that we've been," player Morgan Pressel said. "It's people who have come out to see us and want to come out and see us again."

New U.S. markets eventually will rise. What's important for 2012 is that the LPGA has 27 events on the schedule, with the possibility of adding a 28th late in the year. That's the most since 2008.

Much of the spotlight will fall on world No.1 Yani Tseng, seeking to build on a year that produced 12 victories worldwide. This week also brings the LPGA rookie debut of South Florida teen Lexi Thompson, granted an age exemption after winning in September in Alabama.

Sorenstam's dilemma: After first turning down a feeler from Europe's Solheim Cup bosses, Annika Sorenstam has agreed to reconsider the idea of serving as 2013 captain.

The clock is ticking, with an appointment expected this month. The longer Sorenstam talked about the role, though, the mother of two seemed to be leaning toward sticking with her initial answer.

"It's almost a full-time job," Sorenstam said. "I already have a full-time job, plus being a mom. I'm honored and would love to do it, but it's not a good time."

Next year's matches are set for Colorado GC outside Denver. Sorenstam's first of 10 majors came in the state, winning the 1995 U.S. Women's Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

Tap-ins: Hall of Famer Ernie Els and 2010 FedEx Cup champ Jim Furyk are bubble boys for the WGC Match Play brackets, which lock in after this week's results in Pebble Beach and Dubai. Els has fallen to 62nd in the world rankings; Furyk is 59th. … Fred Funk makes his first Champions Tour start since July at this week's Allianz Championship. Funk had surgeries on his left thumb and right knee in August.

— Jeff Shain