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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stupples stumbles, Alfredsson swoops
to win LPGA event in China

Helen Alfredsson fired a seven-under-par 65 in the final round to capture the Grand China Air LPGA tournament by three shots on Hainan Island, southern China.
Alfredsson, 43 and scoring her second win of the season, finished at 12-under-par 204 to beat Yani Tseng of Taiwan, who fired a closing 68 and wound up at 207.
The Swede started the day five shots behind second-round leader Karen Stupples but took a one-shot advantage after playing the first 11 holes in six under. She added birdies on numbers 14 and 17 to more than offset a bogey on 18.
Tseng, a rising star who won the LPGA Championship earlier this season, finished with five birdies and a bogey in her final round.
First-round leader Laura Diaz finished in third place at eight under after an even-par round of 72.
Stupples, who was aiming for her first title since 2004, stumbled to a three-over 75 and finished fourth. Stupples birdied the third and fourth holes but had only one other birdie against six bogeys the rest of the way.
Rainy conditions played a role at the US$1.8 million event - the first official LPGA tournament in China - but the weather started to co-operate as play was not stopped during the final round.
Alfredsson had six birdies on the first 10 holes. The final one in that surge gave her the outright lead, moving her to 11-under and a stroke clear of Stupples. Birdies on 14 and 17 moved the Swede to 13-under. Playing three groups ahead of the final threesome, she left the door slightly ajar with a poor chip and a bogey on 18.
"I was certain at that point," Alfredsson said. "I was four shots ahead and I didn't have huge pressure on me for the chip shot. But it was not a great shot. But it's great to be on 18 and have a four-shot lead."
Alfredsson said she is likely to play only another year or two on tour. She gets pleasure beating players who are decades younger.
"They don't want to get beat by us because we are so old, and we still want to beat them because they are so young," said Alfredsson, who captained Europe's 2007 Solheim Cup team.
Alfredsson won the Evian Masters earlier in the season in a three-way playoff. This victory, worth $270,000, pushed her career earnings to over $5 million.
Conditions at the West Coast Golf Club were sultry, lessened only by a light breeze blowing over China's southern island of Hainan -- sandwiched between the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea.
This inaugural event is on the schedule again for next season, although the venue has not been announced.
Par 216 (3 x 72) 6,422yd
204 Helen Alfredsson 70 69 65 ($270,00).
207 Yani Tseng 72 67 68 ($171,913).
208 Laura Diaz 63 72 72 ($124,711).
209 Karen Stupples 67 67 75 ($96,475).
Selected scores:
213 Suzann Pettersen 72 73 68, Lindsey Wright 73 69 71 (jt 9th) ($32,698 each).
214 Annika Sorenstam 72 70 72 (jt 17th) ($22,150).
216 Sophie Gustafson 72 74 70, Catriona Matthew 70 70 76 (jt 28th) ($14,511 each).