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Sorenstam's Internationals all square with Asia on opening day

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Annika Sorenstam's Internationals and their Asian opponents ended the opening day of the US$960,000 (euro724,850) Lexus Cup women's team tournament all square at three apiece in the foursomes, alternate shot format Friday.

Two of the U.S. LPGA Tour's youngest players _ Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada _ won the first point for the Internationals with a spectacular shot in the three-day Ryder Cup-style tournament at the 6,051-meter (6,620-yard) Tanah Merah Country Club Garden course in Singapore.

American Pressel, 19, and Paraguay's Granada, 20, defeated South Koreans Hee-won Han and LPGA Hall of Fame member Se Ri Pak 4 and 3 after fifteen holes in a round that culminated in an extraordinary eagle-three by Pressel.

Pressel's winning shot _ set up by Granada _ on the par-five 537-yard (491-meter) 15th hole spun halfway around the cup from before settling in from 122 yards (111 meters) out, courtesy of her 9-iron.

``I had just said to Julieta before, 'Let's end this match on this hole! Let's win this hole!''' Pressel said. ``I didn't make her putt. She was happy.''

The tournament shifts to a six-match fourball, or best ball, format for Saturday and singles Sunday with 12.5 points needed to win the cup.

Nine Koreans make up Asian captain Grace Park's squad of 12.

``We have a saying in Korea that is 'fighting,' that means 'victory, lets go,''' Park said. ``So every time we see each other on the golf course, we would hold up our fists and encourage each other.''

Friday, the Internationals and Asia won two each with the other two ending in draws.

Pak meanwhile, said their opponents played well, but that their own errors contributed to the loss.

``I don't think our game was that great today, Pak said. ``We missed a lot of shots and gave a lot of shots away, and we didn't have time to recover ... . We tried our best,'' added Pak.

Still, she had one of the shots of the day.

Clutching a rescue club on the 420-yard (384-meter) 12th, Pak took the second shot to a hidden, elevated green that landed within two meters (six feet) for Han to convert.

World No. 1 Sorenstam, the captain, and partner Carin Koch was the other winner for the International squad while the pairings of Young Kim and Seon-hwa Lee, and Meena Lee and Jee-young Lee were Asia's winners.

Sorenstam and Koch led after six holes against South Korea's Joo-mi Kim and Japan's Sakura Yokomine, finally winning the match on the 16th hole 3 and 2.

``It's a nice security to know that she's going to hit the next shot,'' Koch said of her top-ranked playing partner.

One of the closest matches was between Americans Natalie Gulbis and Paula Creamer, and South Koreans Jee-young Lee and Meena Lee.

Gulbis and Creamer were four up at the turn but two bogeys on the 10th and 12th and a birdie by their opponents on the 14th saw their lead whittled to just one.

The Lees squared match 2 with a birdie on the 15th and went ahead a hole later _ thanks to Jee-young Lee's power game.

``When it came to Jee-young and Paula and they were teeing off against each other, Jee-young has about a 50-yard advantage over Paula,'' Meena Lee said. ``On some of the longer holes, we had more birdie chances ... they seemed to get frustrated a little bit.''

Asia's opening point was won by South Koreans Young Kim and Seon-Hwa Lee after a win over teenager Brittany Lincicome of the United States and England's Laura Davies.

If the teams finish in a tie Sunday, the captains play a sudden-death playoff to determine the winner. The winning team members will each receive US$50,000 (euro37,902), and the losers will get US$30,000 (euro22,741).

In 2005, Sorenstam led the Internationals to a 16-8 win.
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