Playing her second-to-last event before retiring, the Swedish star holed a 45-foot pitch for eagle on the par-5 18th hole to give herself and Suzann Pettersen a 1-up victory over Inbee Park and Eun Hee Ji on Saturday in the Lexus Cup.
“The timing was perfect,” Sorenstam said. “Suzann played extraordinarily well. I was happy to have a chance to help on the last hole.”
With the comeback victory in the opening best-ball match at Singapore Island Country Club, Sorenstam and Pettersen helped the International team match two-time defending champion Asia at six points entering the closing 12 singles matches.
Sorenstam, set to end her Hall of Fame career next week in the Ladies European Tour’s Dubai Ladies Masters, is the International team’s playing captain.
“It’s amazing how close it really is,” Sorenstam said. “A lot of matches went to the 18th hole. The golf has been spectacular. You have to make birdies to win out here. It’s been a great day and hopefully we can continue the momentum tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come to the 18th hole.”
On Sunday, Sorenstam will play Asian captain Se Ri Pak in the opening match, the first between the longtime stars.
“It’s funny, you think all these years we’ve been out together, we’ve never been out head-to-head,” Sorenstam said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Pettersen won the 12th and 13th holes to even the match. Ji took the 14th, and Pettersen countered on 15. Park restored Asia’s 1-up lead on 16, but Pettersen tied it again with a birdie on 17. On 18, Sorenstam holed out from the rough with a 54-degree wedge after her 5-wood approach sailed right and deflected off a grandstand.
Pettersen, set to play LPGA Championship winner Yani Tseng in the third match Sunday, had eight birdies, while Sorenstam had just one birdie and the eagle.
“I got it going out there,” Pettersen said. “Having Annika on your side helps me to be a bit more aggressive and I had the putter hot out there today. You got to grind so hard, every putt. Great finish to a great match. Today was a lot of good energy between me and Annika. We played a lot together and have a lot of good memories and she just keeps pulling off these great shots when it really matters.”
In the second match, Solheim Cup rivals Cristie Kerr and Helen Alfredsson teamed to beat Pak and Seon Hwa Lee 2-up.
“We were pretty fired up,” Alfredsson said. “We knew it was do or die, so we got it pretty close and just tried to make some birdies. It’s nice when you do it.”
The loss was Lee’s first in eight matches in three appearances in the event. On Sunday, she’ll face Angela Stanford in the final match.
“I played not too good today,” Lee said. “I still have jet-lag and my condition is not good. Se Ri played well, but I did not help out there today.”
After Asia swept the third, fourth and fifth matches to take a 6-5 lead, the Australian duo of Katherine Hull and Nikki Campbell left the event tied for the second straight day, beating Tseng and Namika Omata 1-up.
“It’s great to have the support and the Aussie calls were pretty appropriate,” Campbell said. “I am looking forward to tomorrow, but disappointed I don’t have Katherine to carry me along.”
The Asian teams of Jeong Jang-Na Yeon Choi, Candie Kung-Mayumi Shimomura and Sarah Lee-Song Hee Kim won their matches. Jang and Choi edged Paula Creamer and Nicole Castrale 1-up, Kung and Shimomura beat Stanford and Natalie Gulbis 4 and 3, and Sarah Lee and Song Hee Kim topped Karen Stupples and Christina Kim 4 and 2.
“We were both so nervous,” Jang said. “We were watching every single score and that was making us more nervous.”
Asia won 15-9 last year at The Vines in Perth, Australia, for its second straight victory. The International team won the inaugural matches 16-8 in 2005 at Tenah Merah in Singapore, and Asia won 12 1/2-11 1/2 at Tenah Merah in 2006.