The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Defending champ Beatriz Recari, local favourite Stacy Lewis in field of LPGA's Marathon Classic

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SYLVANIA, Ohio - Some like to see their name in lights. Beatriz Recari was thrilled to see hers bolted to a light pole.

The name of each year's winner of the Marathon Classic is placed on the signs along the main drag of this Toledo suburb.

"It's really cool," said Recari, a 27-year-old Spaniard who has won three times on the LPGA Tour. "It's obviously a great bonus not only to get this trophy and everything that comes along with it. But to get your own street for a year, that's pretty special."

Recari has become a more of a household name as her career blossomed in the last year. After winning the Kia tournament, she outdueled Paula Creamer down the stretch to also win the Marathon.

While collecting more than $1 million in checks, she placed sixth in the tour's player of the year standings, finished 3-1-1 for the victorious European side at the Solheim Cup and contended at last week's Women's British Open.

She began the final round at Royal Birkdale three shots back of the leader but faded to a tie for 17th with a 79.

"I had a little bit of a slow start first half of the year, but feel like everything is coming along," she said, referring to lower back and hip problems. "I'm working on things that feel good for me. I'm healthy and fit. I had a very good performance last week, and I'm very happy with my practicing."

Mo Martin, who won the Women's British Open with a closing 72, is still adapting to the title of major champion.

"It's definitely been a whirlwind," she said of arriving in Ohio after several connecting flights and lots of frequent-flier miles. "I hadn't even turned my phone on. When I eventually did get here, I turned my phone on and it kind of exploded, everybody just congratulating me."

She also got a pat-on-the-back letter from no less than legend Arnold Palmer.

Recari and Martin aren't the only prominent players to keep an eye on this week.

Creamer, who won the tournament formerly known as the Jamie Farr in 2008, always plays well at Highland Meadows. She is one of the most popular players in the field every year.

"Yeah, I love this golf course," she said. "I shot 60 here (in the first round in '08). I have a lot of really good memories. This just fits my game."

There's also local favourite Stacy Lewis — a Toledo native — who's ranked No. 1 in the world.

"It's always fun coming back here just for me," said Lewis, a winner this year in Arkansas, yet another of her childhood homes. "Just having the family connection, we have big family dinners on the weekends and stuff. It would be awesome to win here."

The field also includes five-time winner Se Ri Pak, top newcomer Lydia Ko and U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie.

Regardless of who ends up winning on Sunday afternoon, it's likely somebody who produces birdies in bunches. Eleven times in the last 16 years, the winner at Highland Meadows has finished at 14-under 270 or better.

"Small greens, narrow fairways," said Wie, who has been coming to the tournament since she got an exemption when she was just 13. "You feel like if you hit good shots, you should be rewarded."

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