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Sweden’s Hjorth tops upstart teen in LPGA win

Sweden's Maria Hjorth capitalised on teenager Alexis Thompson's final-round fade Sunday, rallying to win the Avnet LPGA Classic for her fifth LPGA tour title.

Sweden's Hjorth tops upstart teen in LPGA win

Hjorth posted a second-straight five-under par 67 for a 10-under total of 278.

She was two strokes in front of South Korean Kim Song-Hee, who carded a 71 for 280 on the Crossings course.

Thompson, meanwhile, carded a fourth-round 78, settling for a tie for 19th place after starting the day tied for the lead with Kim.

Thompson, the 16-year-old who was trying to become the LPGA’s youngest ever winner, opened and closed her round with bogeys, and had double bogeys at 14 and 15 as she found the water at both holes.

South Korean Choi Na Yeon carded a 69 and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen shot a 70 to finish three back on 281.

Hjorth’s husband Shaun McBride, who usually caddies on the PGA Tour, carried her bag.

The Swede’s seven birdies included four in a five-hole span from the third, a burst that saw her vault into the lead.

“I knew I just had to be patient,” Hjorth said.

“Obviously my goal going in I was trying to get double digits (under par), which is pretty hard to do. I didn’t think it was going to be enough for a win, but obviously it was.”

She watched as Kim’s approach at 18 found a bunker, then let herself celebrate.

“She could have holed out her shot,” Hjorth said.

“It wasn’t until she hit her second shot that I knew I was going to win the tournament.”

The South Korean had narrowed the gap with an eagle on the par-five 16th.

“I knew she was 10 under through like 14 but I didn’t look at the scoreboard after I had an eagle,” Kim said.

“I was just kind of playing my game.”

Despite her disappointment, Thompson will likely have more chances to become the LPGA’s youngest winner.

She still has nearly two years to top Marlene Hagge, who was 18 years, 14 days when she won the 18-hole Sarasota Open.

Hagge won two 18-hole events at 18. Paula Creamer is the youngest winner of a multi-round event, winning the 2005 Sybase Classic at 18 years, 9 months, 17 days.

Hjorth advised Thompson not to dwell on the negative.

“I just hope that she learns things from it,” Hjorth said.

“That’s the important thing. She’s going to be a great player and have a lot of wins and a lot of success.”

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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.