Mizuno Classic
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Hjorth wins by 5 after closing 67

Her golf clubs never made it in time for the first round, bouncing from one airport to another.

Not that it mattered to Maria Hjorth. She borrowed some clubs and won the $800,000 Mizuno Classic by five strokes today.

"When I didn't get my clubs Wednesday night, I told myself as long as I didn't let it bother me, it would be OK," Hjorth said.

She was better than that. The Swede shot a 5-under-par 67 today to capture the next-to-last tournament of the U.S. LPGA Tour season. She earned $120,000, moving up three places to 11th on the money list.

Hjorth finished the three rounds at 15-under 201. Tied for second at 10-under 206 were Laura Davies and three standouts from the Japan LPGA -- leading money-winner Fumiko Muraguchi, Aki Nakano and South Korean Ku Ok-hee.

Hjorth's problems began Monday in Phoenix. Her luggage was sent to Las Vegas instead of to her connection in Los Angeles.

When she arrived in Japan neither her suitcase nor her golf bag made it. She received her clothes Tuesday night, but the airline lost her clubs again.

On Friday, Hjorth played the first round with borrowed clubs and shot a 70. When her golf bag finally arrived Friday night, she decided to stick with the borrowed irons, driver and putter, adding her own fairway woods and wedges to the bag.

It turned out to be a good decision. Hjorth tied her career-low round of 64 in the second round Saturday. With a two-shot lead at the start of the final round, her 67 was more than enough.

"I just figured you have to do the best you can with what you have. I tried to use something similar to what I usually play," Hjorth said. "I didn't let myself get down.

"To win once is one thing, but to do it again proves to myself that this could be a regular thing," said Hjorth, whose first LPGA victory came less than two months ago at the Safeco Classic.

"For me, it seems harder to lead than to come from behind. I was the leader going into the final round of Tournament of Champions, and I learned a lot from that experience," said Hjorth, who finished second to Japan's Akiko Fukushima in that tournament three weeks ago.

"I just wanted to go out today and do my best to make birdies one by one," she added.

Hjorth birdied the second hole and eagled the sixth, moving up to 13-under. She added two more birdies before her lone bogey came on the 13th, where she missed the fairway and the green. She got back to 15 under with a birdie on No. 17.

Davies had the day's best round of 66, pulling into a fourway tie for second.

"When I got to 9-under after 11 holes, I thought there was a chance. I was thinking maybe four more birdies would do it. But we see now even that wouldn't have been enough," Davies said. "Maria just played fantastic golf."

Muraguchi and Nakano shot identical rounds of 70-66-70. Ku, a winner on the LPGA Tour in 1988 who now plays solely in Japan, had a final round of 67.

 


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