Larger-than-life American Christina Kim birdied the last to give the Internationals a nail-biting 12.5-11.5 win over Asia at the Lexus Cup yesterday to avenge their drubbing last year.
Going into yesterday’s singles at the year-ending LPGA event, the two teams were locked at 6-6 and it remained tight throughout the day, coming down to the last hole.
With the other players safely home, Japan’s Namika Omata and Kim found themselves at the 18th with the Internationals needing half a point to clinch the championship and give Annika Sorenstam a fitting send-off into retirement.
Both players safely made the green, with Kim having two putts to ensure she halved the hole to hand victory to her team, which she calmly did.
Sorenstam, playing her last ever round of LPGA golf before retiring, was first out against Asian captain Pak Se-ri and set the tone.
Bogeys at the opening two holes put Pak on the back foot and she never recovered, eventually crashing three and two as Sorenstam sunk birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th.
It was a glorious personal end to Sorenstam’s LPGA career but less memorable for Pak, who failed to win any of her three matches at the tournament.
Veteran Helen Alfredsson, 43, capped her best season ever with a comfortable three and two win over US Open champion Park In-bee after taking the lead on the third hole and never surrendering.
It gave the Internationals a two point cushion, but it didn’t last long.
Nicole Castrale of the US needed to sink an eight foot putt to keep it all square going to the last against the experienced Sarah Lee in her match, but she missed to give her opponent the lead for the first time.
The South Korean wrapped it up on the 18th, before seeing her compatriot Choi Na-yeon draw Asia level with a crushing three and two win over International vice-captain Paula Creamer.
On a day of top notch golf, Norway’s Suzann Petterson holed a 12 foot putt at the last for an eagle to halve her match against Taiwan’s world No. 2 Yani Tseng.
South Korea’s Kim Song-hee then came from behind to beat Cristie Kerr of the US one up, relying on slice of luck on the 18th when her approach shot hit the roof of the grandstand before rolling onto the edge of the green.
In another tight finish, England’s Karen Stupples halved with Ji Eun-hee.
With Australia’s Katherine Hull narrowly beating Jang Jeong one up and Angela Stanford cruising past Lee Seon-hwa four and three, the Internationals were 12-10 in front with only half a point needed to win.
Candie Kung of Taiwan’s three and two win over Australia’s Nikki Campbell took it to 12-11, before the last hole drama.