Sorenstam nears swansong
Swedish golf legend captains international team in Singapore as one of last duties.
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2008 11:37 GMT

Sorenstam gets a champagne shower from her sister in Florida last week [AFP]
Annika Sorenstam is trying to divert the attention away from her impending retirement and onto the golfing performance of her team at the Lexus Cup this week.

But the typically-professional move is doomed to failure, as the biggest name in women's golf over the past 15 years bids farewell to the sport's public.

The Swede competes in her final LPGA-sanctioned event this week as playing captain of the International team at the Ryder Cup-style event at Singapore Island Country Club.

The former world number one, who will give up competitive golf after next month's Dubai Ladies Masters, is firmly focused on leading her 12-player team to victory in the matchplay event against an Asian line-up seeking a hat-trick.

Asian bounce

"We won the event in the first year but the Asians bounced back to win the next two," Sorenstam said ahead of Friday's tee-off.

"Now it's our turn and I feel very good about our team this year. As it's my last year playing, it would be good to lift the trophy again."

The Swede has the players at her disposal to fulfil her wish with a line-up bolstered by six of the world's top 10, making the Internationals favourites to overcome an Asia team containing eight South Koreans, including skipper Pak Se-ri.

Sorenstam will look to Norway's Suzann Pettersen, Sweden's Helen Alfredsson and Americans Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford to replicate the golf that has lifted them to the top of the rankings in a format she relishes.

"We don't have the opportunity to compete in matchplay events very often on tour," she said.

"It's a fun format. Anything can happen as it's a more aggressive type of play. I like it."

Park to Pak

Tseng with her rookie-of-the-year prize [AFP]
Pak took over as captain from Grace Park last year and, after leading Asia to a 15-9 victory in Australia, the 31-year-old Korean will need to forge a strong team spirit in a side containing six rookies if she is to repeat that triumph.

Fellow Koreans Sarah Lee, Jeong Jang and Lee Seon-hwa, who boasts a perfect 6-0-0 record in the event, will be charged with helping Pak to get the most out of her new recruits, including Taiwanese sensation Tseng Yani.

The 19-year-old Tseng won this year's LPGA Championship in her rookie season before finishing second at the Women's British Open, and Pak has singled out the world number two as the player to watch.

Great things

"She has certainly made an impression on the LPGA Tour this year and I expect great things from her in Singapore," Pak said.

"I understand she has already played on this course as a junior and won some tournaments, hopefully she will bring that knowledge to the team and help us all be victorious.

"It's important for me to have youth in the team as I feel they bring a fresh and exciting element to the tournament and they are hungry to win."

Sorenstam will bid an emotional farewell to the playing side of her LPGA career on Sunday but she has not ruled out a return to this event.

"I would consider coming back as a non-playing captain if I was asked. That would be great," she said.

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