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Monday, September 28, 2009

Sophie Gustafson ends six years without a win

Catriona Matthew earns $21,642 for

share of ninth place in California

After six long years of wondering when a win would come, Sweden's Sophie Gustafson put together four solid rounds of golf in the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge at Blackhawk Country Club, Danville in California to win for the fifth time in her career, and first since 2003.
Gustafson finished with a tournament-record 20-under-par 268 score, and beat out the runner-up and World's top-ranked player, Lorena Ochoa, by four strokes.
Gustafson collected a cash prize of $165,000 while Ochoa received $100,391.
Women's British Open winner Catriona Matthew from North Berwick improved with every round (71-70-69-67) for an 11-under-par total of 277 over the 6,185yd par-72 course. Catriona won $21,642.
Janice Moodie from Glasgow earned $6,100 for finishing joint 36th with scores of 73, 71, 69 and 72 for three-under-285.
Gustafson (65-69-66-68) started strongly and never looked back, as she had control of the leaderboard all four days, just sharing it once after Saturday's third round with Ochoa. Starting the final round all tied up with Ochoa, Gustafson birdied the first hole of the day.
Her front nine holes saw an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys, while the back nine earned just a single birdie. The 4-under-par 68 turned out to be just what was needed to pick up her fifth career victory and first title since the Samsung World Championship in 2003. This was one of her best efforts.
"This is my first victory on the LPGA Tour," she said. "I won a couple of times in Europe, but it feels fantastic to win. It's one of my best. I have been struggling with my putting, but my long game has been really good."
Though Ochoa kept it close for much of the day, Gustafson wasn't at all fazed by the fact that she was playing with the No 1 female golfer in the world.
"It's not easy," she said of playing with Ochoa. "It's a full-time job taking care of myself, so I didn't really pay much attention to what she was doing."
Gustafson, a 12-year LPGA Tour member, now has five career victories, after putting a close to a six-year drought. In 2003, she won the Samsung World Championship. Her first three wins came in 2000 (Chick-Fil-A Charity Championship, Weetabix Women's British Open) and 2001 (Subaru Memorial of Naples).
Coming into this week's event, her best finish was the runner-up at the Evian Masters. Earlier this year, Gustafson qualified for her seventh European Solheim Cup team, based on her top-5 ranking on the Ladies European Tour (LET) points list, and recorded a 1-3-0 record for the team.
She also crossed the $5 million mark in career earnings this year at the CN Canadian Women's Open, where she tied for 10th. Coming in solo-second this week is Ochoa, as she finished four strokes behind Gustafson at 16-under-par 272. This is third-straight time that she has finished in the top-5 at this event in Danville, Calif., but has yet to wind up in the winner's circle on the 18th-green.
The Mexican player was even-par on Sunday, recording three birdies and three bogeys. Taking home the $100,391 runner-up check, Ochoa has crossed the $1 million mark in season earnings. She now has earned more than $14 million in career dollars.
"Well, for sure I didn't play my best today," she said. "I think, you know, just for different reasons. I didn't get off to the best start, and I think Sophie was 4-under after five holes. But, you know, today was just her day. She won the tournament, and she deserved it. She played a really good round today. So, I guess I'm just going to try to be happy with second place."
A member of the US Curtis Cup team at St Andrews in 2008, rookie pro Amanda Blumenherst finished a very creditable fifth. She is not a member of the LPGA Tour yet. This was her fourth appearance on a sponsor's exemption and her highest finish yet.
Amanda from Scottsdale, Arizona recorded a 13-under-par 275 (70-71-67-67). Her back-to-back 67s in the third and final rounds of this week's event at Blackhawk Country Club propelled her up the leaderboard.
Recently the Duke University graduate earned medalist honors at the Palm Springs LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournament. She now will compete in the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament the first week of December at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Floruda.
Par 288 (4x72) 6185yd
268 Sophie Gustafson 65 69 66 68 ($165,000).
272 Lorena Ochoa 68 67 65 72 (100,391).
274 Amy Yang 72 67 69 66, Sun Young Yoo 73 64 69 68 ($64,582 each).
275 Maria Hjorth 69 66 72 69, Amanda Blumenherst 76 71 67 67, Angela Stanford 67 70 69 69 ($37,833 each).
276 Katherine Hull 72 69 68 68 ($27,206).
277 Reilly Rankin 70 69 73 65, Catriona Matthew 71 70 69 67, Morgan Pressel 71 69 67 70, Christina Kim 70 73 65 69 (jt 9th) ($21,642 each).
Selected other scores:
285 Janice Moodie 73 71 69 72 (jt 36th) ($6,100).
291 Becky Morgan 74 72 72 73 (jt 64th) ($2,472).
292 Karen Stupples 73 70 74 75 (jt 67th) ($2,308).

+Editor's note: Equality for women pros in prizemoney? Not even close. Phil Mickelson received $1,350,000 for winning on the US PGA Tour on Sunday. As you will have read above, Sophie Gustafson's take home pay for her LPGA Tour win was $165,000.