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Golf - 07. December 2007.

TEAM ASIA READY TO BATTLE TO RETAIN THE LEXUS CUP

 

Pairings announced for Day 1 at The Vines

 

Perth, Australia, December 6, 2007 – The stage for the much anticipated 3rd edition of the Lexus Cup, a women’s team event pitting Team International against Team Asia, has been set with players from both sides assembling at The Vines Resort and Country Club, Perth, Western Australia for the opening ceremony and important first day pairings.

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Sporting pink outfits, Team International returns with Annika Sorenstam and Natalie Gulbis as captain and vice-captain respectively. New members Maria Hjorth (SWE), Nicole Castrale (US) and Angela Park (BRA) make their maiden appearance at this LPGA-sanctioned Ryder-cup style event.


 

Feeling confident and relaxed, Sorenstam jokingly admitted that returning vice-captain Gulbis will be the one doing all the hard work. This year’s Team International features the big-hitting Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who has had a fantastic year with five wins, including the Macdonald’s LPGA Championship, one of the four majors.


 

Currently ranked 4th in the world on the Rolex rankings and 2nd on the LPGA, Pettersen is unfazed by the media attention that has come her way, “It’s been a fantastic year for me and I’d like to finish with a flourish here at the Lexus Cup,” said the tall and athletic Norwegian.

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“Yes, she’s always able to win a few, and so she’s here,” quipped team captain Sorenstam.

 

In response to last year’s defeat by Team Asia, Sorenstam has put together a team of big-hitters that will seem to have an advantage over the Asians.

 

“The biggest difference between last year and this year is the golf course, revealed vice-captain Gulbis.


 

“It is much longer and we have a great team this year,” joined Sorenstam. “But we still have to make the fairways and hit the greens. We’re also more relaxed here because it’s the third time already – the matches are the same, golf is the same.”


 

She also added, “We’re on the right track to making this closer to the Solheim Cup. Lexus has been a fantastic sponsor, and the fan base is good. I also think the support from the players here is key. We also need the media to speak highly of the event. History takes time to build.”

 

 

Among the team is a familiar face among local fans. Australian Nikki Campbell is ranked 65th in the world and plies her trade on the Japan Tour. “It’s nice to be here and I don’t have to travel much,” said Campbell.


 

With an international crop of the best players around the world, Team International has much talent to select from for Friday’s first foursomes match.


 

Defending champions Team Asia on the hand consists of a big Korean contingent coming off a less illustrious year and a recent defeat by Japan in a matchplay event. But with new additions in the form of Amy Hung (TWN), vice-captain Sarah Lee (KOR), sponsor’s pick Ayako Uehara (JPN), In-Kyung Kim (KOR) and the very young 8th ranked player in the world, Ji Yai Shin, Team Asia is looking as strong as before.


 

19-year-old Ji Yai Shin has only been a professional for two years but she has already suffered a major setback in the passing of her mother. “A lot of people mentioned my mum’s passing away. A lot of local media asked if I should have quitted back then but I believe in carrying on. That’s what my mum would like me to do,” she professed.


 

Dispelling the notion that Korean players have not had a good year, captain Pak explained, “Last year, there were a lot of young American and international players who came through and developed new skill sets, gotten stronger and consequently, won more tournaments this year. We (Koreans) still have a strong representation in the top 20 so it’s not like we were bad.”


 

On the defeat by Japan, she responded that it was a different tournament with different motivations. Now, as Team Asia, they represent the hopes of an entire continent, not just their own countries, and that will inspire players to play harder.


 

“There will also be a nice dinner waiting for them if they win,” she continued.

 

“This year has been the biggest year for me. It was a dream come true to be admitted into the (World Golf) Hall of Fame and to captain Team Asia. It (The Lexus Cup) is a great event at the end of the season,” concluded Pak.


 

The first day foursomes match-up of The Lexus Cup begins Friday December 7 and consists of two pairs of two players from each side alternately playing the same ball.


 

 

PAIRINGS FOR DAY 1 – FOURSOMES (DECEMBER 7, 2007)

 

No.

TEAM ASIA PLAYER

VS

TEAM INTERNATIONAL PLAYER

12.45pm

Jee Young Lee (KOR)

VS

Natalie Gulbis (USA)

Seon Hwa Lee (KOR)

Suzann Pettersen (NOR)

 


 


 


 


12.55pm

Sarah Lee (KOR)

VS

Cristie Kerr (USA)

Meena Lee (KOR)

Nicole Castrale (USA)

 


 


 


 


1.05pm

Jeong Jang (KOR)

VS

Angela Park (BRA)

Shi Hyun Ahn (KOR)

Nikki Campbell (AUS)

 


 


 


 


1.15pm

Se Ri Pak (KOR)

VS

Morgan Pressel (USA)

In-Kyung Kim (KOR)

Stacy Prammanasudh (USA)

 


 


 


 


1.25pm

Amy Hung (TWN)

VS

Maria Hjorth (SWE)

Ji Yai Shin (KOR)

Brittany Lincicome (USA)

 


 


 


 


1.35pm

Candie Kung (TWN)

VS

Annika Sorenstam (SWE)

Ayako Uehara (JPN)

Catriona Matthew (SCO)

 

 

 

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