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Eagle by Gustafson helps seal win at LPGA Challenge

Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson scored a long-awaited professional golf victory, her first in more than five years, by winning the$1.1 million LPGA Challenge in California on Sunday.

Eagle by Gustafson helps seal win at LPGA Challenge

The 35-year-old Swede triumphed for the first time since the 2003 Samsung World Championship, and admitted that she was starting to wonder if she’d ever add another title to her resume.

“Yeah, absolutely,” she smiled.

When it did come, Gustafson made it look easy as she cruised to a four-shot victory over world number one Lorena Ochoa of Mexico.

Gustafson carded a four-under par 68 for a 20-under total of 268 and her fifth LPGA trophy.

She was grinning as she crossed the bridge to the 18th green, and once the win was in the bag she hugged caddie Tamara Hyett.

Gustafson’s final round was highlighted by an eagle at the fifth, while Ochoa, vying for her third title of the season but her first since April, struggled all day.

Ochoa closed with a 72 for a 16-under total of 272. South Koreans Amy Yang (66) and Sun Young Yoo (68) tied for third on 274.

“I thought maybe the back nine was mine,” said Ochoa, whose last victory came at the Corona championship in Mexico. “I gave myself birdie chances on 10, 12, 13 and 14 and none of them dropped. I would have had some momentum and put some pressure on Sophie.”

Ochoa, who won 21 times in the previous three seasons, said she just had to stay patient in her current dry spell.

“For sure I didn’t play my best today,” she said. “I didn’t get a good start. Everything looked like it was her day. I’m trying to be happy with second place. I have to be patient with myself.”

Gustafson admitted she was relieved her own dry spell was over.

“I’m just happy it’s over,” she said. “I have felt good but I haven’t gotten it done.

“I felt good about my game, but the thing about my game is it can come and go. I don’t know what to expect.”

One thing Gustafson wasn’t worrying about was Ochoa.

“I’m so wrapped up in my own game if I start paying attention to what other people are doing I start going straight downhill,” she said.

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GOLF

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.