Neumann Back in Winners Circle

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2004 Asahi Ryokuken International ClassicNORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Liselotte Neumann held off Grace Park on Sunday to win her first tournament in six years at the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship. Neumann shot a 4-under 68 to finish three shots ahead at 15-under-par 273.
 
The win was Neumann's 13th on the LPGA Tour, but her first since the 1998 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship. The last time she held the 54-hole lead in an event was the Kraft Nabisco Championship two years ago, but the Swede is back in the winner's circle.
 
'You don't know if you ever will win another tournament, and all of a sudden this week everything kind of went my way. I think when I hit bad shots I got the good bounces. I guess maybe when you win a tournament that is what it takes,' said Neumann, a six-time Solheim Cupper.
 
Silvia Cavalleri (67), Kris Tschetter (69) and Laura Davies (70) shared third place at 10-under-par 278 at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club.
 
Neumann birdied the third, eighth and ninth holes on Sunday to build a four-shot lead over the field. Trouble loomed for Neumann as she bogeyed the 10th and 11th holes, and when Park eagled the par-5 12th, the lead was one.
 
Neumann birdied the 12th to go back ahead by two, but Park answered. She drained a 30-foot birdie putt from the fringe at the 14th to get back within one, but Neumann birdied the same hole to reclaim her two-shot lead.
 
At the par-5 16th, Park left with a birdie to trail by a stroke. Neumann sank a 6-footer for birdie a few groups later to go back up by two. Park hit a tree with her approach at 17 and could do no better than bogey.
 
Neumann had a three-shot lead and played 18 safely, almost too safely. Her second shot landed 50 feet from the hole, then Neumann pulled her birdie putt eight feet left of the hole. She made the putt to claim the $150,000 first- prize check.
 
'I was comfortable right off the start today,' admitted Neumann, who won the 1988 U.S. Women's Open in her rookie season. 'I didn't know it was that close either. This week definitely the putts were dropping and it's a great feeling to get that win.'
 
Park fought hard to shoot a 68 of her own, but it was not enough. She captured her fifth runner-up of the 2004 season as she finished at 12-under-par 276.
 
'I had my chance, but just didn't get it done,' said Park, who won her first major earlier this year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. 'All day long she was a couple of strokes ahead, and obviously she did what she had to do. Another second place.'
 
Jeong Jang (68) and Sophie Gustafson (71) tied for sixth place at 9-under-par 269. Laura Diaz (71) and Cristie Kerr (72) shared eighth place at minus-8.
 
Becky Morgan was alone in second place heading into the final round, but struggled on Sunday. She carded a 3-over 75 and tied for 10th place with Candie Kung (66), Beth Daniel (70), Tina Barrett (70), Candy Hannemann (71), Donna Andrews (72). That group came in at 7-under-par 281.
 
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