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Internationals win Lexus Cup 16-8

Annika Sorenstam ended another great season in style by captaining the International Team to a 16-8 victory over Asia in the inaugural Lexus Cup on Sunday.

Leading 8-4 going into the final day and needing just four and a half points from the singles, American Erica Blasberg had the honour of putting the contest beyond doubt with a 3 and 2 win over Japan's Riko Higashio in the ninth match.

By then, Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis and Karen Stupples had already done the business for their team at Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore.

Sorenstam led by example in the top match against Asian Team captain Grace Park. The world number one lost the first hole to a birdie three but hit back with five birdies and not a single dropped shot in the 17 holes needed for a 2 and 1 victory.

"It's fantastic to have led the side to a first win here," said Sorenstam, who claimed two and a half out of three points.

"I think it is a great new tournament that will continue to grow."

It was also another great week for Creamer, the 19-year-old who was a key member of the United States team that beat Europe to regain the Solheim Cup in Indiana in September.

Playing in the second match, Creamer, who has won four times worldwide in a spectacular rookie season, made it three wins out of three by trouncing U.S. Women's Open champion Birdie Kim by 6 and 5 in the second match.

"I didn't have one bogey all week and my goal today was to get the first point on the board for the Internationals just as I did at the Solheim Cup (when she beat Laura Davies 7 and 5)," said the youngster, who had a 100 percent record.

"This event hasn't got the tradition or history of a Solheim Cup, but it's definitely got the ability to be right up there."

Jang Jeong, the Women's British Open champion, beat Jill McGill by one hole in a tight third match, Han Hee-won added another point for Asia with a two-hole win over Marisa Baena and Candie Kung was a comfortable 5 and 4 winner over Janice Moodie.

But Gulbis increased the visitors' lead with a 3 and 1 triumph over Lee Meena and Stupples beat one of the Korean teenage twins, Naree Song, to set up Blasberg for a grand finale.

"It's a real honour to clinch the match," said Blasberg, who had four birdies in the 16 holes against Higashio.

"We both played really well, but I made the crucial putts."

Creamer, Sophie Gustafson of Sweden and Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who won the long 18th with a birdie for a one-hole victory over Japan's Namika Omata in the final match, were the three players to emerge with 100 percent records.

The 12 members of the winning International Team all picked up $50,000, while the Asians each went home with $30,000.

December 11, 2005

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