Hjorth Takes the Title at Avnet LPGA Classic
Mobile, Alabama – Maria Hjorth’s 15-plus years of professional experience paid off on Sunday. Hjorth put together a final-round 67 to overtake the field and win the Avnet LPGA Classic.
Hjorth finished the 72 holes at the Magnolia Grove – Crossings Course at 10-under par 278. It was the fifth LPGA win for the 37-year old, who won the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship in 2010. Song-Hee Kim, who started the final round tied for the lead, closed with a 71 to finish alone in second place two shots behind Hjorth at 8-under par 280. Na Yeon Choi shot a 67 to finish at 281 and share third place with Suzann Pettersen, who finished with a 70. Stacy Lewis’s 69 put her at 282 while Lexi Thompson, who started the day tied for the lead with Kim and was bidding to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner in history skied to a 78 and wound up tied for 19th at 1-under par 287.
Hjorth started the day three shots off the lead, but made a charge on the front side, converting four birdie chances in a five-hole stretch, at the third, fourth, sixth, and seventh. Ironically, it was Hjorth’s putting that hindered her progress early in her professional career. “I knew that there were a lot of good players in front of me,” she said, “and even teeing up in the same group. So I knew I had to get off to a fast start and hopefully put pressure on the other players. Obviously when you’re behind, it’s great to be able to come up with a good start and just put a little bit of extra pressure on.”
The Swedish player had some ups and downs on the back side, a trip that included three birdies and two bogies, but was able to retain her focus. “You had to be very, very patient out here this week,” she said, “because greens were playing very difficult and firm and there are tough pin placements. A lot of times you might not be able to go at the pin, but you have to accept the 20- or 25-foot putt just to make sure you’re on the green and give yourself a chance.”
She also noted there is a 21-year age difference between herself and the 16-year old Thompson. “I could have just as well been a mum to Alexis Thompson,” Hjorth said. “I mean, they’re so young coming out here now and you’re a bit older. But I think sometimes experience can help as well, and that’s what you have to look at, too.”
Hjorth’s win came with an added bonus because her husband, Shaun McBride, was on her bag. McBride used to caddy for his wife regularly before the birth of their daughter Emily, who is now 2. McBride now caddies for Bryce Molder on the PGA Tour but had the week off.
1) Maria Hjorth (SWE) 70-74-67-67 (278, -10)
2) Song-Hee Kim (KOR) 67-72-70-71 (280, -8)
3) Na Yeon Choi (KOR) 69-72-71-69 (281, -7)
Suzann Pettersen (NOR) 72-68-71-70
5) Stacy Lewis (USA) 68-71-74-69 (282, -6)
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