Sweden's Annika Sorenstam edged rival Se Ri Pak 1–up here today to capture the World Ladies Match Play Championship for her seventh LPGA victory of the season.
Pak, seeded second in the tournament behind Sorenstam, went up by four early but Sorenstam came storming back with three birdies in a row from the ninth hole to pull even.
"That's the way match play is," said Pak. "Annika just started picking it up on nine and she had three straight birdies and I think that was the key to victory."
With both players even after 14 holes, Pak got into trouble on the 15th hole when her tee shot found the rough and her second shot landed in the bunker to the right of the green.
Pak, who was looking for her fifth win of the season, managed to save par but Sorenstam birdied the 15th to go 1–up and then held on for the win at the Sosei Country Club.
"I'm very pleased with the way I played today," said Sorenstam, who received dlrs 144,000 from the dlrs 960,000 purse. "Se Ri played very well and it was a satisfying win."
The victory also solidified Sorenstam's overall lead over Pak in the player of the year race.
"Player of the year is the biggest award you can get," said Sorenstam. "It means that you played consistent throughout the year and at the majors. This year has been incredible for me and I have won more tournaments than I ever have done before."
In the semifinals, Sorenstam defeated Canada's Lorie Kane 4 and 2 and Pak breezed past Taiwan's Huang Yu–chen 6 and 4.
The tournament is the tour's first match play event since 1992. It replaces the World Ladies Challenge, a team event between the LPGA Tour and the Japan LPGA.
Final: A Sorenstam (USA) LPGA bt S Ri Pak (USA) LPGA 1–up
Semi–finals: A Sorenstam (USA) LPGA bt L Kane (USA) LPGA 4 and 2, S Ri Pak (USA) LPGA bt Yu–Chen Huang (Jpn) LPGA 6 and 4