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Gustafson wins HP Open in playoff

Sweden's Sophie Gustafson made it three wins in her last five tournaments in Europe after fending off Norway's Suzann Pettersen at the third extra hole in the £325,000 HP Open in Stockholm, but only after a dramatic Sunday afternoon where photographers were the least popular people in Drottningholm GC.

Starting two clear of the world's best female player, Gustafson played sublime golf all day long in front of 21500 of her compatriots and flat outplayed Annika Sorenstam, who could not close the gap, eventually finishing in third spot after a 68 on Sunday.

But the drama came earlier in the day from Pettersen, who fired eight birdies and an eagle two at the short par four ninth hole for a faultless ten under par 62, tying the Tour's lowest 18 hole record to post 19 under par, which many believed would be one too few to give her a chance of her second career victory since the French Open in 2001.

However, Gustafson, who was five under par after 17 holes, looked to have the tournament well and truly in the bag standing on the 18th green with 30 feet between her and a 15th career victory.

Her approach putt came close and with only 18-inches to go to snatch the £48,750 winner's cheque, a photographer let off a volley of snaps on the backswing of her putt and the ball burned the side of the hole, much to the shock of the crowd and leaving Gustafson and her caddie Mark Fulcher incandescent with rage at the posse of 'snappers'.

Gustafson held back the frustrations and the tears, signed for a 68 and headed out into the playoff over the 18th hole with her Solheim Cup team mate Pettersen.

It took three holes to separate them with Pettersen hitting her approach into the crowd at the first time of asking, making a gritty up and down from the drop zone. The second hole was halved in regulation pars, but on the third occasion, Pettersen airmailed the green again with her approach, but on that occasion, could not salvage par.

Gustafson, who knocked a pitching wedge into ten feet, slipped the first one by to the right and was left with another dreaded 18-incher to hole. With photographers out of sight, obviously fearing the wrath of a potentially 21500 strong lynch-mob, Gustafson bravely rattled it home.

"It definitely disturbed me on my backswing," said a relieved Gustafson of the incident.

"I was very upset during the playoff and I have to thank 'Fooch' for calming me down.

"This win means so much to me. To win in Sweden and to beat the world's best player on the final day makes me feel so proud. This is a very important moment in my career."

Pettersen endured the 'round of her life' where, in an six hole period from the, she was eight under par from the seventh hole onwards, the highlight of which was an eagle two after hitting driver to ten inches at the 250-metre long ninth.

"It could have easily been a 59," said Pettersen, who was furious after dropping shots at both reachable par fives down the stretch.

"I decided to be aggressive and it paid off. I didn't back off once."

Pettersen also moved into eighth place in The Solheim rankings, one outside the automatic qualification places. But she heads back to the LPGA and will have to rely on a wild card pick from Catrin Nilsmark if she is to represent Europe this year at Barseback GC.

"I don't really want to depend on a pick, but this is my third week in a row and my body needs rest. I'm heading back to America and I'll watch from there. But if I'm happy with my game, I'd expect to be on the team."

Laura Davies from England closed with a 70 to tie in fourth place with Becky Morgan, who has helped her chances of a maiden Solheim berth with her seventh top ten of the year.

Vibeke Stensrud from Norway finished in sixth place on 10 under par and confirming their place in the line up at Barseback next month is Elisabeth Esterl, who finished with a 67 to tie in seventh spot with Iben Tinning, who had a 72.

FINAL ROUND SCORES:

269 - Sophie Gustafson (SWE) 67 71 63 68 (Winner after third play-off hole)
269 - Suzann Pettersen (NOR) 70 67 70 62
271 - Annika Sorenstam (SWE) 68 68 67 68
276 - Laura Davies (ENG) 69 67 70 70, Becky Morgan (WAL) 68 71 67 70
278 - Vibeke Stensrud (NOR) 68 71 66 73
279 - Elisabeth Esterl (GER) 70 72 70 67, Iben Tinning (DEN) 67 68 72 72
280 - Alison Munt (AUS) 68 71 71 70, Ana Larraneta (ESP) 72 68 69 71
281 - Trish Johnson (ENG) 72 70 69 70, Maria Hjorth (SWE) 68 68 74 71, Charlotta Sorenstam (SWE) 71 70 69 71, Alison Nicholas (ENG) 71 70 69 71, Karen Margrethe Juul (DEN) 69 69 70 73, Silvia Cavalleri (ITA) 69 65 72 75

282 - Catrin Nilsmark (SWE) 69 69 74 70, Alexandra Armas (ESP) 68 72 72 70, Lynnette Brooky (NZ) 73 68 67 74
283 - Carin Koch (SWE) 69 74 69 71
284 - Cecilia Ekelundh (SWE) 74 69 71 70, Johanna Head (ENG) 69 73 71 71, Nadina Taylor (AUS) 69 71 72 72, Eleanor Pilgrim (WAL) 68 70 73 73

285 - Karine Icher (FRA) 68 75 75 67, Mandy Adamson (SA) 72 71 73 69, Helen Alfredsson (SWE) 70 72 73 70, Marlene Hedblom (SWE) 72 68 69 76

286 - Corinne Dibnah (AUS) 73 69 72 72, Ludivine Kreutz (FRA) 72 73 67 74, Raquel Carriedo (ESP) 66 71 74 75, Dale Reid (SCO) 73 71 66 76

287 - Vicky Uwland (AUS) 71 70 76 70, Mikaela Parmlid (SWE) 71 72 72 72, Johanna Westerberg (SWE) 68 76 70 73, Liselotte Neumann (SWE) 69 73 70 75, Rebecca Stevenson (AUS) 69 72 69 77

288 - Sophie Sandolo (ITA) 72 70 74 72, Nina Karlsson (SWE) 69 74 72 73, Shani Waugh (AUS) 68 73 72 75, Kirsty Taylor (ENG) 70 71 70 77

289 - Diana Luna (ITA) 73 71 72 73, Elin Ohlsson (Am) (SWE) 70 72 73 74, Nicole Stillig (GER) 72 71 72 74, Georgina Simpson (ENG) 70 70 73 76

290 - Nicola Moult (ENG) 72 70 74 74, Marie-Laure de Lorenzi (FRA) 72 73 70 75, Karolina Andersson (SWE) 70 72 71 77
291 - Sara Beautell (ESP) 72 72 75 72, Karen Lunn (AUS) 71 71 75 74, Amanda Moltke-Leth (DEN) 71 72 72 76, Natascha Fink (AUT) 74 67 73 77, Veronica Zorzi (ITA) 68 74 72 77, Joanne Mills (AUS) 72 71 71 77

292 - Lisa Hed (SWE) 70 72 78 72, Diane Barnard (ENG) 73 71 73 75, Marta Prieto (ESP) 70 74 73 75, Marina Arruti (ESP) 67 75 74 76, Ellen Smets (BEL) 72 73 71 76

293 - Maria Boden (SWE) 69 76 73 75, Anne-Marie Knight (AUS) 72 73 73 75
296 - Karin Borjeskog (Am) (SWE) 73 72 76 75, Marieke Zelsmann (NL) 74 67 79 76
RTD - Patricia Meunier Lebouc (FRA) 71 73 73 RTD


 

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