Rusamme Gulyanamitta

“This is a championship, emotions and other factors should be put aside if a player wants to retire from competitive golf. There are other ways of saying ‘all the best’ but not easing up to allow a ‘celebrity’ to win,” said Russie, as she is affectionately known. “My game’s been pretty good and I hope to carry this form to the tournament,” she continued.

This year has been momentous for another Thai professional, 18-year-old Pornanong Phatlum, who won back-to-back titles at the Thailand Ladies Open and Women’s India Open in March this year.

Pornanong was fired up for the tournament. “I’m not thinking of the players here. My aim is to go out there, play to my form and win the tournament. Spoiling the dreams of other players is not my concern. As an athlete, when I’m on battleground, I play to ‘kill’,” she said.

Both Gulyanamitta and Pornanong were keen to see Sorenstam play on for another season.

“I believe she’s retiring prematurely. Annika’s still a good player, capable of winning tournaments from the current batch of young guns on all the Tours. But this is her decision and I can’t interfere,” said Gulyanamitta.

“She’s too good to leave right now. I believe she will consider playing another season. You know, Annika’s an idol for many Asian women amateurs and professionals,” Pornanong said.

The par 72 Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club, which is in immaculate condition, will play at 6299 yards, or 5762 metres, for the tournament.