Sörenstam wins 71st LPGA title

Sweden's Annika Sörenstam won the 71st title of her career, capturing the LPGA Stanford International Pro-Am in Miami on Sunday when Paula Creamer left an eight-foot par putt short on the first playoff hole.

Sörenstam moved 17 triumphs shy of matching Kathy Whitworth’s all-time LPGA victory record by taking her 48th victory when at least sharing the lead entering the final round, also improving to 16-6 in career playoffs.

“I’m very relieved and happy and excited,” Sörenstam said. “I played very well and so did Paula. She played excellent. It took 19 holes to separate us. It could have gone really any way.

“Obviously it was not the finish Paula had in mind but we fought very hard, both of us, and just have to take it. I’m just fortunate that this time it was my turn and I’m going cherish this moment.”

It was the second triumph of the season for Sörenstam, who won the LPGA opener in Hawaii after an injury-riddled 2007 season in which she failed to win a title.

Sörenstam sent a message Sunday that she is back near top form.

“I’m excited at the way the season has started. Since the British Open, I’ve been top 10 I think every tournament except two. That is as consistent as when I was at my peak. I just had a few more victories,” Sörenstam said.

“I feel good about my game. I would say it’s very, very close. I believe my injury is really healing and I’m starting to feel shots again, which is the feeling that disappeared a little bit when I didn’t have the control. Now I feel like I have control again and that’s what I want to take from this week.”

Creamer also won an early season event in Hawaii but missed out on her sixth LPGA title when she came up short in her first tour playoff.

“It’s incredibly disappointing. I had the lead for quite a while out there,” Creamer said. “But at the same time, I’m going against one of the best players in the world. There’s a lot to learn from that.

“This is was my first playoff as a professional and probably the most nervous I’ve ever been. I made more mistakes than she did. She doesn’t make those bogeys. I just made too many.”

Sörenstam and Creamer finished 72 holes on eight-under par 275 after Creamer fired a final-round 69 and Sörenstam, who began the day with a one-stroke lead, shot 70.

Australian Karrie Webb, playing with a new putter she began using only this week, fired a stunning seven-under par 64 to threaten the leaders but settled for a share of third with South Korean Young Kim on seven-under 276.

Japan’s Momoko Ueda was fifth on 278 after a final-round 71.

Creamer birdied the par-five second and par-3 third holes to grab the lead but fell back with a bogey at the par-three seventh while Sörenstam birdied the par-five sixth.

Creamer birdied the ninth to match Sörenstam for the lead. The Swedish star answered by opening the back nine with a birdie but Creamer matched her with a

birdie on the following hole.

“It meant a lot to me to come down the stretch there and hit some really crucial shots and finish strong,” Sörenstam said.

Sörenstam fell out the lead with a bogey at the par-three 13th but after a bad tee shot, Creamer missed a long par putt at the 17th, leaving her level with the Swedish star for the lead as they approached the par-five 18th tee.

“I just kept telling myself to stay focused and keep on going. I might roll in a putt,” Sörenstam said. “What happened on 17 can easily happen.”

Each missed a long birdie putt to finish 72 holes deadlocked, sending them back to the 18th tee to begin the playoff.

Creamer was just off the green while Sörenstam was near where she had been in regulation, 10 feet from the cup. Creamer rolled the ball eight feet past the cup while Sörenstam just missed and made par.

“I had two great chances, in regulation and in the playoff, and just hit the lip in both of them,” Sörenstam said.

When Creamer left her comeback putt inches short of the cup, Sörenstam had her second triumph of the season.

“My hands were shaking so much I probably should have gripped it a little harder so I would’ve actually followed through,” Creamer said. “But that was just classic nerves and not being in that kind of situation before.”

Webb made a major charge with five birdies in a row starting at the second hole. She added two more at the 11th and 12th holes and answered a bogey at the 14th with a birdie on the 16th but finished one shot out of the playoff.

“I’m very pleased,” Webb said. “I felt like my game is close. I’ve been trying not to get too frustrated. I’ve been getting down on myself because my golf is not producing the results like it should have been.

“But the putts went in today.”

World number one Lorena Ochoa, who won a week ago, skipped this event. The Mexican star has won five of six events which she has entered this year and 10

of her past 15 starts.


Sweden’s Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters

Sweden's Alex Noren came back from a seven-shot overnight deficit to claim a dramatic French Open victory at Le Golf National on Sunday, as the difficult closing stretch of the Ryder Cup course saw a host of challengers slip up.

Sweden's Noren storms to French Open title as fellow Swede Kinhult falters
Swedish golfer Alex Noren holds the trophy after winning the HNA Open de France, as part of the European Tour 2018, on Sunday. Photo: LUCAS BARIOULET / AFP
Fellow Swede Marcus Kinhult had entered Sunday's play with a two-shot lead but struggled through a five-over final round to end in a three-way tie for fifth.
World number 16 Noren fired a brilliant four-under 67 to reach seven-under par for the tournament, before sitting back and watching his rivals falter as he won by a single stroke.
The 35-year-old will be a key figure for Europe when the Ryder Cup gets underway on September 28, and he showed all his qualities by playing the last three holes in two-under.
The big-name pairing of Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm both threatened, but the two Spaniards found water at the 18th, while world number two Justin Thomas never seriously contended.
Julian Suri, who was looking to become the first American winner of the event since Barry Jaeckel in 1972, went to the 72nd hole on eight-under but made a watery double-bogey, while England's Chris Wood also blew a late lead.
That handed Noren, who finished his fourth round 45 minutes before the final group, a 10th European Tour title and first since the BMW PGA Championship in May 2017, when he also fought back from seven shots behind on the final day.
Scotland's Russell Knox carded a final-round 65 earlier in the day to finish tied for second with Suri and Wood on six-under — enough to secure him a spot for the British Open at Carnoustie along with Kinhult and Suri.