Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Grand China Air event breaks new ground for golf

FLYING HIGH Taiwanese star Yani Tseng will be in the field when play starts today in Hainan and is in confident mood after an outstanding rookie year

AFP , HAIKOU, CHINA

China hosts its first-ever USLPGA event this week, with six of the world’s top 10 players teeing off at the Grand China Air.

Held at the Haikou West Golf Club on the island of Hainan, the field is led by world No. 2 Annika Sorenstam, who makes her first appearance in China at the US$1.8 million event before retiring at the end of the year.

“The players are all very excited about being among the first group to visit this fascinating place for an LPGA tournament and to have the chance to be the first champion of an event that in years to come could be one of the biggest we have on tour,” Sorenstam said.

VICTORIES

With tournaments running out for the 37-year-old Swede, she is keen to add to her more than 90 career victories, including 10 major titles.

“I have been fortunate to enjoy many wonderful experiences in my time with the LPGA, from great victories through to travelling to all corners of the world,” she said. “However, as I look back on my career in a few years’ time, there is no doubt that a victory at the first LPGA tournament to be played in China would be a very special memory.”

In the absence of the world’s top player Lorena Ochoa, her main challengers from today through Sunday include world No. 3 Yani Tseng, fourth-ranked Suzann Pettersen and world No. 6 Cristie Kerr.

Taiwan’s Tseng this year became the first rookie to win a women’s major since South Korea’s Pak Se-ri in 1998, and she would dearly love to be the first name on the Grand China Air trophy.

CONFIDENCE

“I believe the most important thing when approaching any tournament is confidence and after having played well this year, I am very confident with the way with my game is ahead of the Grand China Air LPGA,” she said. “Being my first year on Tour, I am playing almost every course for the first time. So far, it has worked out very well for me.”

This year has also been momentous for another rookie, Feng Shanshan, only the second LPGA Tour member from China after Li Ying Ye, and she too is keen to leave her mark on her home tournament.

Feng is in red-hot form after posting two top-five finishes in her last three starts, while American Morgan Pressel is fired up after winning the Kapalua LPGA Classic in Hawaii on Sunday.

“I’m confident coming off of last week. I’ve been working on my game and still have a little to work on and hopefully it’ll get better,” Pressel said.

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