Golf Roundup

Teen’s bid falls short

Thompson loses grip at Classic

Associated Press / May 2, 2011

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Maria Hjorth took advantage of Alexis Thompson’s collapse in a failed bid to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner, rallying yesterday to win the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala., for her fifth tour title.

Hjorth shot her second straight 5-under-par 67 to finish at 10-under 278, two strokes ahead of Song-Hee Kim (71) at the Magnolia Grove complex.

The 16-year-old Thompson, tied for the lead with Kim entering the round, had a 78 to drop into a tie for 19th at 1 under. Thompson opened and closed with bogeys and had double bogeys after her ball went into the water on Nos. 14 and 15.

Na Yeon Choi (69) and Suzann Pettersen (70) finished three strokes back.

Thompson waved in acknowledgment of the gallery’s loud applause heading to the final hole, but walked off with an anguished expression on her face. Her bid for history had taken a sour turn, but she said nerves weren’t to blame.

“I just didn’t hit it very solid,’’ the Coral Springs, Fla., resident said. “My driver wasn’t that bad, but my irons weren’t good. I just wasn’t trusting anything. I don’t know why, because I wasn’t even that nervous surprisingly.

“It definitely was [a learning experience]. I’m only 16, so I’m just learning every tournament.’’

Hjorth had four of her six birdies on holes Nos. 3-7 to quickly move into the lead. Hjorth also won the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship in 2010.

“I knew I just had to be patient,’’ Hjorth said. “Obviously my goal going in I was trying to get double digits [under par], which is pretty hard to do. I didn’t think it was going to be enough for a win, but obviously it was.’’

Thompson, meanwhile, should have more chances to become the LPGA’s youngest winner. She still has nearly two years to top Marlene Hagge, who was 18 years, 14 days when she won the 18-hole Sarasota Open. Paula Creamer is the youngest winner of a multiround event, winning the 2005 Sybase Classic at 18 years, 9 months, 17 days.

European/Asian — Top-ranked Lee Westwood rallied to win the Ballantine’s Championship in Seoul for his second straight victory, shooting a 5-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Westwood, the English star who won the Indonesian Masters last week to regain the No. 1 spot in the world, finished at 12-under 276.

“It’s always nice when you’re world No. 1 to show everybody why you’re in that position,’’ Westwood said. “I’m delighted with the way I played this week.’’

Jimenez, Westwood’s Ryder Cup teammate and dining companion Saturday, parred the final nine holes for a 71.

PGA — Bubba Watson won the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La., for his second PGA Tour victory of the year and third overall, holing a 3-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Webb Simpson.

After his 329-yard drive narrowly stayed out of the water and landed in a fairway bunker, Watson hit his second shot 210 yards to the green on the 568-yard, par-5 18th.

Simpson’s second shot landed in a bunker short of the green, and he blasted out to 12 feet.

After Simpson narrowly missed his birdie putt, Watson holed out for the victory.

Watson matched Simpson with a 3-under 69 to finish at 15-under 273 at TPC Louisiana. Both players birdied the 18th on the first extra hole.

Nationwide — Ted Potter Jr. won the South Georgia Classic in Valdosta for his first title, closing with a 4-under 68 for a three-stroke victory over Mathew Goggin. Potter, the first Monday qualifier to win since Kyle Reifers in the 2006 Chattanooga Classic, had a tournament-record 16-under 272 total.