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MALAYSIA

Sweden’s Hjorth shares lead at Malaysian LPGA

Sweden's Maria Hjorth shares the lead with South Korea's Lee Jee-Young after the second round of the inaugural Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Saturday.

Sweden's Hjorth shares lead at Malaysian LPGA

The players are tied on 136, six-under-par and a stroke ahead of the field moving into Sunday’s final round.

It was a mixed day for Hjorth, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, with four bogeys, five birdies and a crucial eagle on the sixth hole to end with a 68.

“I had a lot of birdies and a great eagle, so that obviously helped. Then I had three bogeys in a row, which was not very good, but overall I’m very happy with the round. I actually thought someone would shoot away a little bit in the scoring, but I’m happy that they didn’t,” she said.

“I’m hitting the ball well and obviously making some really good putts, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I really just have to stay focused on myself. I’m working really hard on trying to stay within myself and play against myself and no one else. So that’s really my goal,” she said.

Lee, who shot a 66 on Friday to share the first-round lead with Japan’s Mika Miyazato, finished with a one-under 70.

“I played well. Tomorrow hopefully it’ll work better,” said Lee, who turned professional in 2004 and has one LPGA Tour victory to her name.

Sitting in third place is rising star and compatriot Kim Song-Hee after rounds of 69 and 68. American Natalie Gulbis carded a 68 to be in a tie for fourth with Miyazato and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster.

Gulbis, who was bogey-free until the 18th, feels the course suits her game.

“I love this golf course. This is a golf course that suits my eye real well. I’m an aggressive putter, so these greens suit my game well and, depending on what the leaderboard looks like at the end of the day, it will be fun to go out there and play aggressive and see what happens,” she said.

Jean Chua was the best performer among the local players on two-under par, but it was day to forget for English veteran Laura Davies, who fired a 76 to be 13 behind the leaders.

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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.