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Sorenstam ends career with birdie at Dubai Ladies

Photo: Kamran Jebreili/AP

Annika Sorenstam announced in May 2008 she was stepping away from golf.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - It ended with a birdie, a standing ovation and a seventh-place finish for Annika Sorenstam, leaving the Hall of Fame golfer with no regrets after the final stroke of her career.

The Swede shot a 1-under 71 Sunday at the Dubai Ladies Masters, finishing six shots behind winner Anja Monke after an eight-foot birdie at No. 18 drew a standing ovation from the packed gallery.

Sorenstam raised her putter to acknowledge the crowd and then hugged caddie Terry McNamara.

``I felt at peace. I really felt very content,'' she said. ``I walked up to hit my third shot on the 18th, and I felt the breeze coming in, and it was just a really comfortable feeling. I saw some players standing behind the 18th green, that gave me a tear. I saw my parents and my family and that give me a tear.''

Sorenstam, who is retiring to focus on family and business interests, led the tournament after the second round, but shot a 75 on Saturday to torpedoe her hopes for a third straight title at the season-ending tournament on the Ladies European Tour.

``I have had many farewells since I announced my decision some five months back, but this one was special,'' she said. ``I started my career with LET, and it is fitting to end it with an LET event.

Monke shot a 68 to protect her overnight lead, finishing at 13-under 275. Veronica Zorzi of Italy was second, three strokes behind the German, with British veteran Laura Davies another shot back in third.

``I'm feeling very happy,'' Monke said, adding that it was tough to focus on her game and not Sorenstam. ``Of course I heard the big applause when she was hitting her shot into the 18th green. I was on the 16th green at the time. And then we saw her actually finishing it off on 18. We hit our tee shots by that time and so I could at least see a little bit.''

Sorenstam said she was a little nervous Sunday morning and came to the course a bit earlier to stretch and reflect on the day. But once she hit her first shot, she said it was ``automatic.''

``I know the time is right, and therefore I feel very happy,'' she said. ``If you think about 15 years and all of the things I've achieved, it's sad. But you close one door and you open another one. I'm glad I have a chance to do that.''

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