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Asia defend Lexus Cup with 15-9 victory

South Koreans Jee Young Lee, Seon Hwa Lee and In-Kyung Kim won early matches Sunday to give Asia an insurmountable lead en route to its second straight Lexus Cup title, a 15-9 victory over the International team.

After sweeping the opening alternate-shot session Friday, Asia took 3 1/2 of six points in best-ball play Saturday to take a seven-point lead into the Sunday singles matches, reduced from 12 to 11 when Norwegian star Suzann Pettersen was forced to withdraw during her match Saturday after aggravating a back injury.

"Everybody knows now that the strength of women's golf in Asia is growing," Asia captain Se Ri Pak said. "There is a lot of pressure. I was very proud of them. Very proud of them. ... I think we all bonded as a team. It doesn't matter that we come from different places. ... Overall, this is a great team, great teamwork. We all had the same goal, and we all support each player."

Pak, bothered by shoulder pain, also sat out Sunday, with the South Korean star and International captain Annika Sorenstam agreeing to halve the match.

With that match leaving the score 10-3, Asia needed only two points Sunday to retain the cup and 2 1/2 to win outright.

"I didn't really need to say anything to my team," Pak said. "When I got to the first tee, I saw that our players thought there would be tight matches. However, they all did a really, really good job."

Sorenstam opened the singles with a 4-and-3 victory over Candie Kung 4 and 3, but Jee Young Lee countered with a 2-and-1 decision over Nicole Castrale in the second match. Angela Park then beat Asia's Amy Hung 3 and 1, and Kim secured at least a tie with a 2-and-1 victory over Stacy Prammanasudh.

Seon Hwa Lee, the HSBC Women's World Match Play winner, put Asia over the top, beating U.S. Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr 3 and 2. Seon Hwa Lee is 6-0-0 in two appearances in the competition.

"No, I don't own the Lexus Cup, but it is a good feeling," she said through a translator. "First and foremost, good teammates helped me score the points. Second, I'm lucky to be in the position, but I did work hard to be in this spot. Having some younger players around actually helped the players loosen up a bit, feel more comfortable, play their own game."

Sarah Lee also won for Asia, beating Australia's Nikki Campbell 3 and 1.

"Everybody wants to win no matter what," said Sarah Lee, Pak's vice captain. "I knew that we are a tight group and I wanted to win my match. I had a lot of fun. ... am so proud of my team. It's all about the team. ... We will celebrate tonight."

Ayako Uehara and Ji Yai Shin earned half-points for Asia. Catriona Matthew won the 18th with a par to halve with Uehara, and Shin took the 17th and 18th to finish all-square with Natalie Gulbis.

"I enjoyed it very much and it was great playing with so many big-name players," said Uehara, the lone Japanese player in Asia's lineup. "I was very nervous at the start, but I had fun.

Maria Hjorth, Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome won matches for the International side. Hjorth beat Shi Hyun Ahn 3 and 2, Pressel defeated Jeong Jang 2 and 1, and Lincicome won the 18th with a par to edge Meena Lee 1-up.

Asia successfully defend its title after beating the International team 12 1/2 -11 1/2 last year at Tanah Merah in Singapore. The International team won the inaugural matches 16-8 in 2005, also at Tanah Merah.

"Just the first year compared to this year is so much different," Kung said. "The team is all different, the team spirit and everything. The first year was special, because we were in Asia and it was so new to us. It's just like the U.S. playing the Europeans for the Solheim Cup, this is the same thing to us. We want this tournament to be around for many years. It is special to us."




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