Annika's void will be filled: Webb


Annika Sorenstam's announcement that she will retire will leave a void in women's golf, but not for long, former world No1 Karrie Webb predicted.

Webb, who enjoyed an intense rivalry with Sorenstam in the 1990s and into the early part of this decade, said current world No1 Lorena Ochoa and other rising young stars would keep the women's game interesting.

Earlier this week, Sorenstam, 37, announced her decision to retire from at the end of 2008.

The Swedish superstar has amassed 88 career titles, 72 of them on the LPGA Tour since 1994, including 10 major championships.

She was the LPGA Tour's golfer of the year eight times, her dominance from 1995 until 2005 only interrupted by Webb, who topped the rankings in 1996, 1999 and 2000.

"Obviously, when a player of Annika's calibre decides to retire, I think it is going to be a big hole to fill," said Webb, a Hall of Famer.

"She has been a mainstay and been the No1 player in the world for many years and someone that is in contention each and every week. So, to not see her out here or on the leaderboards or on TV, it will be a big void to fill. I think that we have the talent to do that. Obviously Lorena Ochoa is starting to fill that void now with the play that she has had in the past two or three years."

Webb said she was not surprised by Sorenstam's announcement, adding: "I know she has been talking about it for a few years, and I think maybe she thought she might last year, but I am sure with the injury that she had, she probably did not want to finish on that note.

"She has already had a great year now, she has already won three times, so it would not matter how she played the rest of the year. She has proven to herself, which is probably the most important thing, that she can come back from that injury and play well."

Ochoa also paid tribute to Sorenstam.

"She is why I am here," Ochoa said. "Of course, Annika has been my motivation. She is the one who really inspired me to be here.

"Just being part of the Annika era was an honour. It is and I am going to try to enjoy it as much as I can the next few tournaments we play together against each other and just try to make the most of them and just leave with great memories. She has been great to me and a great player." (AFP)