(Thursday 19 January 2006 – Sun City, SA) – With 11 victories on tour last year, nine Majors in total, and a host of other titles and awards, Annika Sorenstam is fast running out of goals to set herself. But the world number one insists that in 2006 she wants to keep winning Majors and the “big events”, starting with this week’s Women’s World Cup of Golf.
Sorenstam and her Swedish partner Liselotte Neumann are the obvious favourites in this 20-nation event, which tees off at the Gary Player Country Club on Friday with the Betterball matches.
But Sorenstam highlighted at least four countries outside of her own that could take the title, which is fair indication of the strength of a field that includes six Solheim Cup players, 10 of the LPGA Tour’s top 30 players and 13 of the top 30 from the Ladies European Tour.
Defending champions Japan, led by Ai Miyazato, the American duo of Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis, the French pairing of Gwladys Nocera and Karine Icher, and the Korean team of Meena Lee and Bo Bae Song all feature in the world number one’s reckoning.
“I think there are many good teams here this week. A lot of great players have come and really wanted to participate,” said Sorenstam, who after missing the inaugural event in 2005 decided she had to compete this year.
“I’ve heard a lot about Sun City and a lot of good things about last year’s tournament. I felt this was a tournament I didn’t want to miss. I wanted to be a part of it.”
Sorenstam is also expecting the Gary Player Country Club course to pose its own challenge.
“I like it. I played 18 holes and it felt like I was hitting every club. Some of the par-fives can be reached in two, and I’ve used driver, five-iron and seven-wood off the tee. You name it, there have been a variety of shots out there.
“I think the key is going to be to hit greens because if you miss by a foot or two you have some really tricky shots.”
Sorenstam did not have much time off over the festive season, and arrived at Sun City eager to get a good start to what is expected to be another banner year for her.
“I’ll focus on the Majors again this year. That’s what really gets me going, the bigger tournaments. I’m working on small details in my game. Not necessarily the swing, but just improving the short game and my longer irons.”
Sweden will tee off in the penultimate group on Friday and are playing alongside Scotland.
South Africa’s Laurette Maritz and Ashleigh Simon, who remain as confident as ever about their chances of a victory this week, are playing alongside defending champions Japan in the final group of the day.