Sorenstam Retains Dubai Title

by | Dec 16, 2007

Modern-day Swedish golfing legend Annika Sorenstam smiles after re-capturing the Dubai Ladies Masters trophy on Sunday, seizing personal victory over physical ailments that have plagued her game for months. Picture: Kamal Sharma courtesy the LET

Modern-day Swedish golfing legend Annika Sorenstam smiles after re-capturing the Dubai Ladies Masters trophy on Sunday, seizing personal victory over physical ailments that have plagued her game for months. Picture: Kamal Sharma courtesy the LET

Sweden‘s Annika Sorenstam successfully
defended the Dubai Ladies Masters on the Emirate’s Majlis course on Sunday,
collecting her first victory of 2007 after a year blighted by injury.


Of
the three South African regulars on the European Ladies Tour, the season ended
best in Dubai for veteran golf professional Laurette Maritz, when she stormed
to the finish to record the second-best round of all golfers in the tour-ending
event, after the record-breaking eight-under par 64 posted by Louise Stahle on
the first day.

Maritz’s
first three rounds would not have set any imagination alight, but she ensured a
dream 2007 finish when an eagle on the eighth hole preceded five birdies on her
final nine’s otherwise unblemished extent, to post a magnificent six-under
final round of 66, for a tournament one-under par 287, and a solid endorsement
of her continuing form.

Maritz
lead all South African contenders on the final leaderboard, finishing with a
share of eighteenth place, nine shots off the tournament champion Sorenstam.

Golf
Digest’s 2007 Woman Golfer of the Year Ashleigh Simon had a share of 25th place
three shots back, when her 1-under par 71 final round contributed to a two-over
290 tournament total in the Desert Masters event, a round which saw her
swapping 6 birdies for five bogeys, a return which was reflected in 17 birdies
against 17 bogeys for the event.

Final-placed
Stacy Lee Bregman started the day in sublime fashion when she sunk a three-shot
eagle on the third, but the three bogeys to follow cancelled the two birdies
for a final round one-under 71, a tournament total of 292 for a share of 31st
place overall.

Sorenstam
posted a winning score of 278, 10-under-par, after rounds of 70, 70, 68 and 70
to claim a first prize of 75,000 Euros, in her first victory since the
inaugural Dubai
event on the same course in October 2006.

"Obviously
winning this tournament means a lot to me," said Sorenstam, who spent much of
the year battling a succession of neck and back problems. "It’s been kind of a
tough year for me inside the ropes and to come here and defend a title and to
play so consistent and bring the trophy home; it’s just a wonderful feeling.

"I’ve
missed the feeling; I’ve missed being in contention. I’ve missed coming down
the stretch and having a chance to win so I could not have asked for a better
week."

The
37-year-old Swede began the day one stroke behind Denmark’s
Iben Tinning but after shooting a final round of two-under-par she finished two
strokes ahead of the Dane, who had a 73 and England’s Laura Davies, who shot 72
to share second on eight-under-par.

Tinning
began the final round with a one stroke lead on nine-under-par but bogeyed the
sixth to draw level with Laura Davies and Annika Sorenstam. The three players
were tied for the lead on nine-under-par after nine holes.

Sorenstam
was one behind Tinning with only two holes to play, but holed a key 20 foot
birdie putt at the 17th to tie for the lead. "I knew I was running out of
holes," said Sorenstam afterwards.

"Iben
had a one stroke lead at the time and all I was focusing on was the hole. There
really was no other option. It wasn’t just trying to get it close: it was the
hole that mattered. I saw the line right away and once the ball got rolling I
thought "This is looking good," and then it dropped.

"Obviously
it was a key putt and kind of set the stage for 18," concluded Sorenstam, the
winner of 10 major championships in a career spanning 14 years.

In
a dramatic finish, Tinning’s third shot to the green at the par-five 18th spun
back into the water, resulting in a double bogey.

"I
was just focusing on my own game and I wasn’t really looking at what Iben was
doing. She has played so well the whole week," said Sorenstam, who admitted
that it wasn’t fun to see Tinning’s title hopes sunk at the last hole.

"I
looked up and I saw this ball coming down. To be honest I didn’t really know what
to say or what to do at that time. I just took a quick turn. All I wanted to do
was get on the green and finish.

"I
told her, ‘You know Iben, you played very well. Don’t let that shot ruin this
whole tournament. Sometimes you win tournaments and sometimes you lose them. At
this particular time it was my turn and obviously I’m thankful for that but I
also feel for Iben."

Tinning, a winner of
five LET tournaments, said: "Of course I’m disappointed with the finish but
before coming here I would have taken second place. Annika holed such a good
putt on the 17th so good for Annika. It was a good finish to the year. Losing
to Annika is something that you can accept."

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson won the New Star Money
List with earnings of 222,081.47 Euros, edging Germany’s Bettina Hauert into
second by 2,218 Euros. Hauert was voted as the Players’ Player of the Year on
the LET for her outstanding achievements throughout the 2007 season, after two
wins, two runners-up spots and a debut appearance in The Solheim Cup.

Sweden‘s Louise Stahle won the Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of
the Year Award to join the ranks of past winners which include Laura Davies,
Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Suzann Pettersen.

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