(DUBAI – December 16th 2007) – 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.
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. It was 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. 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,” said Sorenstam, the winner of 10 major championships in a career spanning 14 years.
|Annika embraces her fiancé Mike McGee aside the 18th green|
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.”
Sorenstam added that the victory would give her a boost ahead of the 2008 season. “It’s a little light in the tunnel. It’s been a tough year and I’m still working a lot on my game.
“I think the key for me this week was to post some solid scores under par. Being in the last group on the last day; there is extra pressure and I haven’t had that in a long time. It’s something that you have to train and get used to again so I think it was very important. To be able to finish and walk home with the trophy; just getting the job done, means a lot to me. It’s going to carry on for next year. I need that and so this is a very special win in many, many ways.”
|Tinning sheds a tear|
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.