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Annika Sorenstam coasts to six shot win

World no.1 Annika Sorenstam won the inaugural Dubai Ladies Masters with a comprehensive six shot victory on a thrilling final day at Emirates Golf Club.

Sorenstam won the €75,000 event on a total of 18-under-par 270 after rounds of 65, 68, 68 and 69 on the par-72 Majlis course.

The 36-year-old set the pace with a course record 65 in the first round and went wire to wire, eventually finishing six ahead of fellow Swede Helen Alfredsson, the 2007 European Solheim Cup Captain, who finished on twelve-under-par after a 67.

Alfredsson said that she was glad to see Sorenstam playing so well. She was also glad she would be on her Solheim Cup team next year and not the other.

“She is just such a fantastic player, she has continued to play so incredibly well in the last few years and just continues to produce and produce,” Alfredsson said.

Sorenstam entered the final day seven shots ahead of fellow superstar, World no.3 Karrie Webb, but the Australian had a final round 70 and finished two shots back from Alfredsson in third position.

The Ladies European Tour’s youngest and newest member Amy Yang, 17, who won the ANZ Ladies Masters in Australia in February as an amateur, had a final round 69 and finished in a share of fourth with the two-time French Open champion Veronica Zorzi of Italy, who shot 70. Yang, who was born in Korea but lives in Australia, was playing in her first tournament as a professional.

Meanwhile Sweden’s Louise Friberg was one stroke back after carding a 65, the joint best score of the day. Denmark’s Iben Tinning also had 65 and was a shot further back in seventh place on six-under-par.

Sorenstam had been on course to win the Gulf region’s first full women’s tournament from the very start of the week and she said the only time she felt nervous was in the presence of royalty during the prize giving ceremony.

She was presented with her winner’s trophy by Shaikh Maktoum, the son of Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, who was also present.

“It was great to have the Royal Highnesses here. I was actually a bit more nervous on the speech than I had been on over the four footers,” said Sorenstam.

“It’s always nice to start a round with a seven shot lead. I was just solid today and I didn’t really make a lot of mistakes. I was just enjoying myself and trying to avoid a big number.”

Following her victory, Sorenstam moved up to third in the final Ladies European Tour 2006 New Star Money List. She has now won five tournaments worldwide this year, including two in Europe and three on the LPGA Tour in America.

Prior to the Dubai Ladies Masters she last won at her own tournament, the Scandinavian TPC Hosted by Annika, in Sweden in August. She also won the US Women’s Open in February, which was her tenth major championship and at that time she received a text message from Tiger Woods.

After her victory in Dubai, it was pointed out that Woods, the World no.1 in the men’s game, won the Dubai Desert Classic at the same golf course and that now they were tied one all. When asked if she would send him a text message, she replied, “Maybe I should.”

The Dubai Ladies Masters was the final event of 2006 on the Ladies European Tour and provided a grand finale to the LET’s busiest ever season.

Laura Davies captured the final 2006 New Star Money List for the seventh time in her 21-year career and Australia’s Nikki Garrett won the Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year Award for the best performance by a player in their first year on Tour.

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