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Sorenstam & Wie top draws at Evian Masters

Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and the cream of women’s golf converge on the banks of Lake Geneva for this week’s $2.5million Evian Masters, the World’s second richest women’s golf event after the Women’s US Open.

Annika Sorenstam returns to Europe after a two week break, during which she was named ESPN’s female athlete of the Year in Los Angeles.

The Swede has been fine tuning her swing in preparation for the pursuit of her third Evian Masters title, the last of which came in 2002.

She admitted that Evian is seen as the fifth major in the eyes of many players: “I think you can call it that for many reasons. The prize money shows that and it is a first class event.”

If she is to succeed this week, Sörenstam will have to fend of some strong challengers in the field including the defending champion Wendy Doolan from Australia.

Two time winner Laura Davies from England will be looking to make it a third and 15-year-old phenomenon Michelle Wie, from Hawaii, returns to compete on the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour for the second time, after finishing tied for 33rd in her first attempt this time last year.

With the Weetabix Women’s British Open next week at Royal Birkdale GC, this is a vital week in the Tour schedule.

Sorenstam will be keen to add a tenth career major to her glittering resume next week, while Wie will compete in the Women’s British Open for the first time, before heading back to school.

“I am really looking forward to that. It would be great to bounce back after the US Open with another major,” admitted Sorenstam.

The Swede was reminded that she is now one behind Tiger Woods in terms of majors, when the newly crowned British Open champion sent her an SMS following his victory on Sunday.

“He wrote that he has won ten. I have not sent anything back. I am going to have to come up with something smart. I have my chance next week, so maybe I can send him something,” she said.

Wie, who, like Sorenstam, admitted that one of her goals is to complete the ‘Grand Slam’ by winning all four majors when her time comes, was optimistic about the week ahead, despite a recent string of disappointing finishes.

“It has been a great year so far, I have been so close all year long. At McDonalds, at the U.S. Open, at the John Deere, at the Public Links. I have come to the last step, I just have to get over the big step and win,” she said, disclosing in the press conference that she knew the length of her longest ever drive; 396 yards, in Hawaii at Ko Olina.

The infamously big hitting Wie is grouped with two other fantastically talented young players in the first round tomorrow; 20-year-old Japanese player Ai Miyazato, who is more famous than Woods in her home country, as well as 18-year-old Paula Creamer, a rookie on the LPGA Tour, who is currently fourth on the 2005 ADT official money list.

Miyazato was one half of the winning team at the Women’s World Cup of Golf in South Africa in February, while Creamer claimed her maiden victory in May at the Sybase Classic.

In addition, there are four of this year’s first time winners on the LET in the field. Two time winner Ludivine Kreutz from France, Italians Federica Piovano and Veronica Zorzi and Bo Bae Song from Korea, so it could be a case of youth winning out over experience this week.

With the weather conditions that ravaged the town of Evian yesterday, it is yet to be decided whether lift, clean and place will be in effect on the course tomorrow.

Over 150 volunteers were sent out onto the course at 6am this morning after a mini tornado ravaged the town of Evian at approximately 3.30pm yesterday. Hale stones of 2cm in diameter were thrown down in gusts of over 91km an hour, tearing up the flora and fauna. But good weather is predicted for the rest of the week.


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