on December 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Kim helps send Sorenstam off with Lexus Cup win

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Christina Kim held her nerve on the closing hole to secure the half point needed for Team International to regain the Lexus Cup with a 12 1/2 – 11 1/2 victory over defending champions Asia on Sunday.

The American had been locked in a tense battle with Japan’s Namika Omata all afternoon and Kim’s birdie at the par-five 18th matched her opponent and ensured her captain Annika Sorenstam’s final appearance in the event was a winning one.

Kim had a putt to secure the trophy on the par-three 17th and chased after the ball as it neared the cup, believing it was about to drop.

The ball slipped past the hole and after Omata sank a nervy six-footer for par, the pair went on to the 18th where Kim’s long eagle putt rolled to within a foot of the cup, sparking off wild celebrations among her team mates as her opponent conceded.

“I’m really enthralled that it came down to my match, but I didn’t know if I was happy or nervous,” Kim told reporters.

“But it’s great to win it for Annika in her final Lexus Cup as playing captain and that fills me up with so much emotion.”

The teams began an enthralling day locked at 6-6 and Sorenstam, playing her final LPGA-sanctioned event before retirement, put the Internationals on course for their second triumph in the event with a 3&2 win over Korea’s Pak Se-ri.

“It’s be so close all week and so much fun to be part of a team that gutted it out from start to finish,” Sorenstam said.

“I’m very proud of my ladies and it feels good to get the cup back.”

Sorenstam was on the brink of victory over the Asia skipper when the players were forced off the course for a second time due to the threat of lightning over the undulating Singapore Island Country Club course.

SET TONE

She returned an hour later to wrap up a victory that always appeared likely after Pak bogeyed three of the opening four holes to hand Sorenstam a comfortable lead.

“I wanted to set the tone for the day as every point is vital,” the 38-year-old Swede added. “I had to do what I had to do and then go and cheer on my team mates.”

Asia vice-captain Sarah Lee responded with a hard fought victory over Nicole Castrale, the Korean holding on for a 1-up win after taking her first lead of the match with a birdie on the penultimate hole.

The win invigorated Team Asia, who had taken the lead in six of the remaining matches and were all square in two others.

Helen Alfredssen held off a battling Park Inbee 3&2 to put the Internationals back in front but exciting prospect Choi Na-yeon pulled it back to 8-8 with a victory by the same score over an ailing Paula Creamer.

Norway’s Suazann Pettersen then salvaged an incredible half point against Tseng Yani by winning two of the last three holes and suddenly the tide began to turn in favor of the Internationals.

Lower down the scoreboard the Asians were being pegged back by their more experienced opponents with Karen Stupples first earning an unlikely half against Ji Eun-hee before Katherine Hull added another point after holding off a spirited Jang Jeong.

Candie Kung picked up her record 10th Lexus Cup point with a 3&2 win over Nikki Campbell before wins by Americans Angela Stanford and Natalie Gulbis canceled out Kim Song-hee’s fortunate triumph to put the Internationals 12-11 ahead.

The stage was set for the boisterous Kim and she duly delivered the killer blow to end a three-day tussle between two well-matched teams, who were tied 3-3 after the foursomes and 6-6 after the fourballs.

“I am so proud of every one of my team as it was such a tight match,” losing captain Pak said. “Overall my team did their best against a great opponent in probably the most exciting finish to an event this year.”

(Editing by Justin Palmer)