Annika Sorenstam ended her stellar career by making an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole on Sunday to complete a 1-under 71 that was only good for seventh place at the Dubai Ladies Masters — six shots behind winner Anja Monke.
Sorenstam, who is retiring to focus on her family and business interests, led the tournament after the second round but her hopes for a third straight title at the season-ending tournament on the Ladies European Tour (LET) faded with a 75 on Saturday.
Still, the Swede managed to end on a positive note with her final birdie to a standing ovation from a packed gallery, raising her putter to acknowledge the crowd before hugging caddie Terry McNamara.
Monke shot a 68 to protect her overnight lead, finishing with a 13-under 275 total. Veronica Zorzi of Italy was second, three strokes behind the German, with British veteran Laura Davies another shot back in third.
Sorenstam said she was a little nervous on Sunday morning and came to the course a bit earlier to stretch and reflect on the day. But once she hit her first shot, she said it was “automatic.”
“I know the time is right, and therefore I feel very happy,” Sorenstam said.
AFP, MALELANE, SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa’s Richard Sterne finally tamed Leopard Creek’s hazardous 18th hole when he captured his fourth European Tour title with a one-stroke win in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Sunday.
Sterne completed his final round in a three-under-par 69 for a total of 17-under 271 to finish one stroke ahead of Johan Edfors of Sweden and Robert Rock of England.
Sterne played the steadiest golf of the leading contenders, with third round leader Thomas Aiken of South Africa slipping to a 75 for a share of fourth place with Rafael Carbrero Bello of Spain.
American Len Mattiace, who was in second place overnight, stumbled to a 77 and a tie for 14th. The par-five 18th hole, where Ernie Els took eight to lose last year’s tournament to John Bickerton, again provided drama.
Sterne’s win was worth 158,500 euros (US$213,400) to Sterne, who also clinched the South African Sunshine Tour order of merit with only this week’s South African Open remaining to play.
■M LYNCH SHOOTOUT
AP, NAPLES, FLORIDA
Kenny Perry and Scott Hoch held off J.B. Holmes and Boo Weekley to win the Merrill Lynch Shootout on Sunday.
Perry eagled No. 17 for the second day in a row, making a 15-foot putt that matched Weekley’s 18-footer to keep him and Hoch up four with one hole to play in the scramble format.
The eagle came one hole after Perry made an 8-footer for birdie after Hoch missed, keeping the duo comfortably ahead.
Weekley and Holmes, teammates with Perry on the US Ryder Cup team, started the final round of the US$2.9 million, 54-hole event trailing by four. They got to three back after birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 and an eagle on the 14th. Weekley had a birdie putt roll around the cup and come back at him on No. 15.
“If that would have gone in, then there could have been a little something there,” Hoch said. “I know I would have felt a little something.”
The 48-year-old Perry, who won the tournament in 2005 with John Huston, split the US$730,000 prize with Hoch.
The 53-year-old Hoch became the oldest to win the event in its 20 years. Raymond Floyd was 51 when he won it with Steve Elkington in 1993.