The long and short of Hjorth's victory


The long putter is also hot in the women’s game.

It's helped rejuvenate Maria Hjorth's game.

Hjorth, 37, won the Avnet LPGA Classic Sunday, her second title in her last five LPGA starts. She won the season-ending Tour Championship with a long putter last December. She won Sunday with a Ping Scottsdale Pick ‘Em Up putter she says is slightly longer than her driver.

“It’s given me a little more confidence, and that’s all I've needed,” Hjorth said in a telephone interview after her two-shot victory at Magnolia Grove’s Crossings Course in Mobile, Ala.

With her game slumping, Hjorth switched to a long putter five years ago. She switched back to a short putter for a few weeks last year, but she missed the long putter.

“I’m better and more consistent with it,” Hjorth said.

Hjorth made her victory popular in Alabama announcing she was donating $20,000 of her winnings to the Red Cross to aid victims of the tornadoes that roared through the state last week.

Hjorth credits her work with swing coach Ian Triggs and sports psychologist Gio Valiante in helping build her confidence.

“I’ve worked really hard to be more accepting of what happens on the golf course,” Hjorth said. “I’m a perfectionist. I worked with Gio last year on being more accepting and not being so hard on myself. I’ve been able to relax more.”

Hjorth, now a five-time LPGA winner, is the second European to win in the last three LPGA events. Germany’s Sandra Gal won the Kia Classic. Four Europeans finished among the top 10 on Sunday. That bodes well for the Euro Solheim Cup team, which will be looking to win for the first time in four Solheim Cups when the event’s staged at Killeen Castle in Ireland in September.

“We’re already looking at the team, who might be involved,” Hjorth said. “We have so many players doing great on the LPGA and playing well in Europe. Hopefully, this is the year we have a great Solheim Cup.”