Evian-les-Bains (France): Sweden’s world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam makes her first European appearance of the season as defending champion in the Evian Masters on Wednesday.
Sorenstam pulled out of the Canadian Open two weeks ago, claiming illness and exhaustion.
“But I’ve had time to recharge the batteries and am feeling very excited about this week,” she said. “I always love coming to Evian, especially since it has special memories for me.”
She became engaged to her American husband, David Esch, here in 996. “It’s one of the most beautiful places we play all year and I would love to win the title again.”
Sorenstam, who won by four shots from fellow-Swede Maria Hjorth and South Korea’s Mi Hyun Kim last year, has won four times this season, three on the LPGA Tour and one in America.
This week is also seen as a preparation for another tilt at the title she desires most of all, the British Open.
The British Open will be played at Royal Lytham and St Annes in England next week, and a first victory in the final major of the season would complete a career Grand Slam for the 32-year-old.
A $ 2.1 m purse, the second richest in the women’s game, has attracted all the leading players, including Sorenstam’s closest challenger, world No. 2 Se Ri Pak, from South Korea, and top American Juli Inkster.
Hilary Lunke, the surprise winner of the US Women’s Open in Portland earlier this month is another prominent US threat as she tries to consolidate her hopes of making a Solheim Cup debut in Sweden in September.
The 24-year-old is currently lying tenth on the US Solheim rankings, and in the final spot for automatic selection.
Heading the home challenge is Patricia Meunier Lebouc, the French player who won the opening major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in California, and is now established as one of the world’s elite.
The 30-year-old is ninth in the current LPGA Rankings, with over half a million dollars in earnings this season. “It is great to be back home and get a chance top appear in front of a French crowd,” she said. (AFP)