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Hall of Fame Invitation Awaits Sorenstam After Playoff Win

From Associated Press

Annika Sorenstam, who doesn’t lose many playoffs, wasn’t about to let it happen twice. Not with entrance into the LPGA Hall of Fame on the line.

The 29-year-old Swede, who left the University of Arizona for the LPGA Tour in 1994, won the Welch’s-Circle K Championship on Sunday at Tucson by beating Pat Hurst on the second hole of a playoff.

The victory, Sorenstam’s 19th, was good for one point and gives her 27, the Hall’s entry-level standard.

“I have to wait another 3 1/2 years anyway [to meet the career requirement], so it’s not like right away,” she said. “But I’ve achieved it now. I guess I could take a few years off and come back. But it’s exciting to be a part of something, you know, an elite group.”

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Sorenstam, beaten by Karrie Webb last week in a playoff in Hawaii, shot a five-under-par 67. Hurst closed with a 66 to finish 72 holes at a tournament-record 19-under 269. The previous best was Chris Johnson’s 272 in 1984.

Sorenstam sank a four-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole after Hurst parred it.

Sorenstam improved to 6-3 in playoffs, dropping Hurst, whose last championship was the 1998 Dinah Shore, to 0-2.

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Dudley Hart birdied the final four holes, overcoming a three-shot deficit, and won the Honda Classic at Coral Springs, Fla., by one stroke.

Hart, who had won only once before on the PGA Tour, closed with a 65, playing the final 10 holes in six-under-par to finish at 19-under 269.

Kevin Wentworth and J.P. Hayes finished second at 18 under.

Wentworth, who had made only one cut in six previous tournaments this year, closed with a 65. Hayes, the leader after the second and third rounds, struggled with a final-round 70.

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Brian Gay appeared to tie Hart for the lead at No. 17 when his 30-foot putt from the fringe sat on the lip for 15 seconds, then fell into the cup. But on the final hole, Gay three-putted from 75 feet for his first bogey since Friday, costing him a share of the lead.

Then, after the round ended, Gay was assessed a one-stroke penalty at No. 17 because of the delay before his putt fell in. That left him tied with Jim Furyk in fourth place at 17 under.

Furyk, who came from six strokes behind with seven holes left to win the Doral-Ryder Open the previous week, played the final six holes Sunday in three under and shot a 67. He nearly holed out from a trap for birdie at No. 18.

Hart, 31, who lives 20 minutes from the Heron Bay course, earned $522,000. His only other tour victory came in the 1996 Canadian Open.

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Hubert Green shot a 10-under-par 62 for a five-stroke victory in the Audi Senior Classic at Puebla, Mexico, the first official Senior PGA Tour event in Mexico.

Green, the 1977 U.S. Open winner and 1985 PGA champion, birdied eight of the first 10 holes, playing the front nine in seven-under 29. He finished with 11 birdies--the last on a one-foot putt on No. 18 after a seven-iron approach. He had only one bogey.

Green, who earned $225,000, had a 19-under 197 total on the La Vista course. The 19-time PGA Tour winner won the 1998 Bruno’s Memorial Classic for his only other victory in three seasons on the 50-and-over tour.

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“I felt I should win at some point this year because I’ve been hitting it so well,” Green said.

Jim Colbert, who shared the second-round lead with Spain’s Jose Maria Canizares, shot a 69 to tie for second with Dean Overturf (66) and Doug Tewell (67). Canizares shot a 70 to finish fifth.

Green matched the lowest score of his career. He had an eight-under 62 in the PGA Tour’s 1978 Texas Open.

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Rolf Muntz of the Netherlands won for the first time on the European Tour, beating Ian Woosnam by five strokes at the $1-million Qatar Masters in Doha, Qatar. He’s the first Dutch winner of an official European event since Joop Ruhl won the Dutch Open in 1947.

Top Scores

$700,000 WELCH’S-CIRCLE K CHAMPIONSHIP

At Tucson--Par 72

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269 (-19)--$105,000

x-Annika Sorenstam: 67-68-67-67

269 (-19)--$65,165

Pat Hurst: 68-69-66-66

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270 (-18)--$47,553

Juli Inkster: 73-67-66-64

x-won playoff on second hole.

Next: Thursday-Sunday--Standard Register Ping, Legacy Golf Resort, Phoenix ($850,000).

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$2.9-MILLION HONDA CLASSIC

At Coral Springs, Fla.--Par 72

269 (-19)--$522,000

Dudley Hart: 65-69-70-65

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270 (-18)--$255,200

Kevin Wentworth: 67-67-71-65

J.P. Hayes: 65-67-68-70

Next: Thursday-Sunday: Bay Hill Invitational, Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla.

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$1.5-MILLION AUDI SENIOR CLASSIC

At Puebla, Mexico--Par 72

197 (-19)--$225,000

Hubert Green: 65-70-62

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202 (-14)--$110,000

Dean Overturf: 70-66-66

Jim Colbert: 67-66-69

Doug Tewell: 69-66-67

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Next: Friday-Sunday--Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, Slammer & Squire, St. Augustine, Fla.


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