|Annika in China; Richard Castka/Sportpixgolf.com|
(China – 30th October 2008) -- Sweden's Annika Sorenstam hopes that her appearance at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open this week will help to inspire budding female Chinese golfers.
"I hope to inspire young golfers and I'm welcome to do that here," said Sorenstam, who will step away from competition in December to start a family and to concentrate on business activities.
She added that China have outstanding facilities and they now need to concentrate on building a strong base of teaching professionals and educating aspiring young golfers on the fundamentals of golf.
She also thought that Chinese players could benefit from visiting different types of courses and playing in tournaments overseas to help them learn about course management and to toughen up their mental games.
"The opportunities are already in place here from the beginning so China must take advantage of the existing facilities if they want to see their players winning outside China," she said.
Sorenstam added that when she was invited to play in the inaugural Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open, she did not hesitate. "I've given so much over many years, that's why I've come here to help inspire young Chinese women."
However, she added that she was not attending in a coaching capacity. "I'm here to win just like all other players: its equal opportunities out there for the field. No one golfer is superior but my experience and form are some plus factors for me this week."
Sorenstam urged the aspiring Chinese players to push themselves and if necessary, to leave their comfort zones.
"In 2003, when I became the first woman to play in a men's event, I wasn't doing it to compare men with women. The experience and challenge gained from playing against the men helped me for the rest of my career," she said.
There are 33 Chinese competitors in this week’s Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open, all hoping to become the first Chinese winner of a Ladies European Tour event.