Alfredsson Defends Longs Drugs at New Course


04 Longs Drugs Challenge AUBURN, Calif. ' It was a long time coming for the outspoken Helen Alfredsson at last years Longs Drugs Challenge (TGC beginning Thurs. at 2:30 p.m. ET), where the Swede fended off a stacked field to take home her fifth career LPGA title and end a nearly five year winless streak. She held off a capable fivesome of Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Jung Yeon Lee, Pat Hurst and Rachel Teske by a single stroke, finishing with a 275 (-13) total to take home the title.
Alfredsson, who won last years event at Lincoln Hills Club in Lincoln, Calif., will have to defend her title on a new track ' The Ridge Golf Course in Auburn, Calif. A new course isnt the only hurdle that awaits the seven-time European Solheim Cup Team member, as a talented field will be vying for the $150,000 first-place prize.
Three-time 2004 tournament champion and 2002 Longs Drugs Challenge champion Cristie Kerr is one of four past Longs Drugs Challenge champions that are competing this week. Donna Andrews (1998), Juli Inkster (1999-2000) and Kelly Robbins (1996) are also in the field. In addition, 2004 tournament champions participating in the 72-hole event include three-time champion Meg Mallon, two-time champion Lorena Ochoa and tournament champs Wendy Doolan, Catriona Matthew, Jennifer Rosales, Kim Saiki, Sherri Steinhauer, Karrie Webb and last weeks winner Hee-Won Han.
Other LPGA stars in this weeks field include Shi Hyun Ahn, Laura Davies, Laura Diaz, Natalie Gulbis, Christina Kim, Aree Song and LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Beth Daniel. Last year, Sophie Gustafson took a one-stroke, first-round lead with a 66 (-6), while Pak held the 36-hole lead, also a one-stroke advantage, at 135 (-9).
Alfredssons third-round 64 (-8) put her a stroke ahead of the field at 205 (-11) heading into the final 18 holes. In the final round, the win didnt come easy for Alfredsson, as Hurst entered the final hole with a one-shot advantage. But a disastrous double bogey by Hurst that included a missed two-and-a-half-foot putt and a par by Alfredsson gave the Swede her the first title of her career in nearly five years. Park closed with a final-round 69 (-3) to finish in the five-way tie for second.
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