Rivals hope to spoil Annikas major goodbye


Ricoh WomenSUNNINGDALE, England ' With her powerful sense of competitive pride, Annika Sorenstam knows that none of her rivals will step aside at the Womens British Open just so she can win her final major.
The Swede who dominated womens golf for a decade is out to win her 11th major before she bows out at the end of the season.
I would love to win here, Sorenstam said. Its the only major that I havent won two or three times. If I could win this week then I would say Ive pretty much achieved everything that I possibly can.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer has her sights set on her first major title. (Getty Images)
The strongest field ever assembled for the British championship will be trying to keep her from that goal, however.
Defending champion Lorena Ochoa is looking for her second major of the year and rivals such as Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster, Se Ri Pak and Laura Davies are also in the field with several newcomers from the United States and South Korea.
Paula Creamer has won three titles this season and before Helen Alfredsson won the Evian Masters on Sunday South Korean players had won five of the previous events on the LPGA.
With 31 South Koreans facing 31 Americans in a field of 144, Sorenstam hopes its a Swede who comes out on top and that she adds to the British Open triumph she captured at Royal Lytham in 2003.
Although she admits that she now lacks the motivation to carry on playing and practicing week after week, she said she has not lost her competitive edge.
My expectations are always high. I believe in myself and I know I can play this golf course, Sorenstam said. But the competition is tough and you just dont know. But Im going to try and stay as competitive as possible.
Ochoa returns as the defending champion, having won her first major at St. Andrews a year ago when the tournament was played for the first time at the home of golf.
The Mexican superstar was under some pressure of her own, with critics wondering at the time why the top-ranked player in the world had not yet won a major.
I knew I could do it. It was just a matter of time and I just needed to stay patient, Ochoa said. It was not for me a lot of pressure and relief, it was more something that I knew was going to happen. I have a lot of faith in my game.
Ochoa had won 12 titles before she went to St. Andrews. Now her record is two majors and 23 titles.
It really put me in a different position as a player and also for other players to see my level of golf, she said. And so thats what Im trying to repeat this year.
Americans havent won any of the last four majors since Cristie Kerr won the 2007 U.S. Open and Creamer appears to be the leading contender in Sunningdale.
She said that the par-72, 6,408-yard course has a lush, green appearance with tall trees lining the sloping fairways. Thats far different from the flat, open St. Andrews links from last year.
This golf course is like playing in the States but, at the same time, theres so many different shots you can play from everywhere, said Creamer, who hasnt missed a cut this season and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six tournaments.
Your creativity and your imagination has to really come out this week.
Leta Lindley, the only other American to win a tournament on the LPGA this season, is also in a field that also includes the only American to have won three British Open titles, Sherri Steinhauer.
Morgan Pressel has yet to win a title since last years triumph at the Kraft Nabisco, which means her only tournament victory so far is a major. The same also applies to Inbee Park, who won the Womens U.S. Open, and Yani Tseng, who won the LPGA Championship.
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