Alfredsson wins Evian Masters in playoff

By Associated PressJuly 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 Evian MastersEVIAN-LES-BAINS, France ' Helen Alfredsson won the Evian Masters in a playoff Sunday, earning her first LPGA title in five years by defeating rookie Na Yeon Choi at the third extra hole.
 
The 43-year-old Swede made a three-foot birdie in the third round of the playoff at the par-5 18th, while the 20-year-old Choi parred the hole.
 
Alfredsson had a 67 in the final round, Choi shot a 66 and overnight leader Angela Park closed with a 71 as all finished at 15-under 273.
 
Helen Alfredsson
Helen Alfredsson jumps for joy after her first LPGA win in five years. (Getty Images)
The 19-year-old Park was eliminated in the first round of the playoff at No. 18 when her birdie attempt rolled around the lip of the cup and stayed out.
 
Alfredsson also won Evian in 1994 and 98, but has battled a series of injuries and had not won a tournament since the 2003 Longs Drugs Challenge.
 
Someone is looking after me for (Evian) to be my next win, she said. All my friends are here. It is a very emotional place for me.
 
Alfredssons 2007 season was sabotaged by long-standing back and hamstring problems and her ranking dropped below No. 100.
 
A runner-up finish at the U.S. Womens Open last month brought her back to No. 42 and she will climb higher when the next rankings are released this week.
 
The win at Evian, Europes richest womens tournament with a purse $3.25 million, was her sixth on the LPGA and earned her $487,500 and a place in the season-ending ADT Championship.
 
The money is not important, Alfredsson said. The satisfaction of winning and making putts, there is no money in the world that can pay for that. Having memories and having to go through what I have gone through and coming out on top in the end.
 
Alfredssons chances of winning looked bleak when she made a bogey at the 13th hole, leaving her five shots behind Choi, who was at 17 under and threatening the Swedes course record of 63 set Friday.
 
Choi had seven birdies and a bogey on the front nine and took the outright lead at 14-under with a birdie at No. 9. She went up by four strokes after another birdie at 13.
 
I thought my course record was going to fly out of the window, Alfredsson said.
 
But Choi dropped shots at 15 and 16, while Alfredsson made a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th and then left her eagle putt at No. 18 close enough for a birdie that drew her even.
 
Park started the day at 14 under, but dropped two shots on the front nine. She made birdies at 11 and 16 to close in on Choi and had a long eagle attempt at No. 18 that would have won the tournament. She had to settle for a birdie, but the 2007 rookie of the year failed to repeat the feat in the first round of the playoff.
 
Parks drive left her wide on the fairway, forcing her to lay up short of the green with her second shot. She chipped to within 12 feet but missed the putt.
 
I was a little nervous and my ball faded to the right. I had no shot to the green, said Park, who was looking for her first LPGA victory. I dont want to be negative about anything. Thats not who I am. I am going to be out here for 10, 15 years and I dont think Im going to let one tournament get me down.
 
Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa, who led after a first-round 65, shot a 68 to place fifth another shot back. The 26-year-old Mexican has never won at Evian, but has five top-five finishes.
 
Annika Sorenstam, the champion in 2000 and 02 who plans to retire at the end of the season, shot 68 in her final round at Evian.
 
The 37-year-old Swede started the day 11 strokes back, but pulled to within five of the lead by reeling off six birdies in the first 12 holes. Her challenge faded with three straight bogeys beginning at 14.
 
Her farewell to Evian was marked with a ceremony immediately after her round to dedicate the grassy scoreboard area as Annika Sorenstam Square.
 
This was very special, a nice surprise, Sorenstam said. I feel like a big part of the Evian family. I will always be here in spirit, for sure.
 
Sorenstams final competitive event in Europe ' and final major ' is the British Womens Open at Sunningdale, England, starting Thursday.
 
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”