Sorenstam earns player praise

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The Independent Online

Laura Davies was just one of many golfers queuing up yesterday to pay tribute to Annika Sorenstam. "We owe a debt to Annika," said Davies, about her long-time rival and friend who announced on Tuesday that she is to retire at the end of this season. "What she did for the women's game can never be repaid."

That was the gist in the wake of the news that the finest female ever to pick up a club will be concentrating on starting a family. At 37, Sorenstam is exceptionally young to be hanging up her spikes and her seven-shot victory in Virginia on Sunday does not suggest that the 10-time major champion is on the slide.

She will not be using the rest of her career as a farewell tour. "I'm a huge competitor, and right now I'm second on the LPGA money list," she said yesterday in New Jersey where the Sybase Classic starts today. "People who know me are aware that I don't settle for second best. So I have a lot of work ahead for the rest of the season."

Meanwhile, the Irish Open begins in Adare, Co Limerick this morning with Open champion Padraig Harrington heading a cast list that includes Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.

The Ulsterman believes that, after winning in Shanghai three weeks ago, he needs two more victories to ensure he makes Nick Faldo's Ryder Cup team in September.