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Roundup: Prammanasudh claims first LPGA title

| Monday, May 2, 2005

FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Stacy Prammanasudh made consecutive birdies at Nos. 16-17 to pull away from defending champion Lorena Ochoa and win her first LPGA Tour title at the Franklin American Mortgage Championship on Sunday.

Prammanasudh made back-to-back birdies twice in the final round and closed with a 3-under-par 69 for a 14-under 274 total to become the first first-time winner on tour this season.

Ochoa birdied No. 18 for a 70 to move to 11-under. Cristie Kerr (68), Christina Kim (69) and Catriona Matthew (71) tied for third at 9-under. Heather Bowie (72), Rachel Hetherington (67) and Karrie Webb (70) were at 4-under.

Ochoa, the rising Mexican star, and Prammanasudh had squared off in college when Ochoa was ranked No. 1 and Prammanasudh a distant No. 2. Ochoa won 12 collegiate titles in two seasons at Arizona, while Prammanasudh won 10 titles in her four years at Tulsa.

This time, Prammanasudh prevailed, playing much the same way Ochoa did last season when she won to LPGA events: staying in the fairway and using an accurate short game to set up easy putts.

The 25-year-old Prammanasudh, who had her father as her caddie, made a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-4 sixth to move to 11-under. Meanwhile, Ochoa pushed her 80-foot birdie 12 feet past the hole and failed to save par, falling to 9-under.

At the par-5 seventh, Prammanasudh failed to reach the green with her second shot, but nearly holed her chip from the fringe and tapped in for birdie to reach 12-under.

Ochoa, making her first title defense, tried to cut into the lead at No. 8, but her 7-foot birdie putt lipped out. She also missed birdie opportunities at the 10th, 15th, 16th and 17th.

Prammanasudh, who made just one bogey in the final round, sank a 10-foot birdie at No. 16 to move to 13-under. She leaned into the putt just after it left the club, and the ball tumbled in off the right lip.

At the par-4 17th, she spun a wedge more than 20 feet back to within 6 feet and made the birdie putt to extend her lead to four strokes at 14-under.

Prammanasudh, who finished a career-best third in this event last year, hit more than 90 percent of the fairways and nearly 90 percent of the greens in regulation for the tournament.

European PGA/Asian Tours

In Shanghai, China, Ernie Els held an eight-stroke lead in the Asian Open yesterday before the final round was suspended because of rain and darkness.

The South African completed six holes of the last round and made three birdies to leave him at 22-under. He will resume play today with a birdie putt on the seventh green.

"I needed to get off to a strong start and I did, so I am happy with that," said Els, whose tee off was delayed more than three hours because of rain.

England's Simon Wakefield was at 14-under after shooting par for six holes. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn was another two strokes behind.

Champions Tour

In Lakeway, Texas, Jim Thorpe won his 10th career Champions Tour title yesterday, birdieing four of the final five holes for a four-stroke victory over Dana Quigley in the FedEx Kinko's Classic.

The 56-year-old Thorpe, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, closed with a 4-under 68 for a 10-under 206 total. He earned $247,500.

Quigley, part of a late four-way tie for the lead, could only muster a string of pars during Thorpe's birdie flourish en route to a 70.

It was an up-and-down round for Thorpe, who twice held and lost leads on the first 11 holes before making the late charge to win.

Thorpe and Wayne Levi started the day tied at 6-under. Thorpe grabbed the lead on No. 1 only to give it away with a bogey four holes later.

Quigley made a charge on the front nine with an eagle on No. 2 and briefly held the lead at 7-under but finished the front nine with two bogeys.

Johnson (70) and Levi (73) tied for third at 5-under.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange had his best showing in his first season on the Champions Tour, closing with a 71 to tie for fifth with Brad Bryant (72) and Bruce Fleisher (73) at 4-under.

Nationwide Tour

In Travelers Rest, S.C., Shane Bertsch overcame a 12-stroke deficit yesterday to win the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs, shooting a 7-under 65 to beat Bubba Watson and Charley Hoffman by a stroke in the rain-shortened tournament.

Bertsch played the Cliffs Valley course after opening with rounds of 69 at Walnut Cove and 68 at Keowee Vineyards in the Pebble Beach-style event. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on his final hole to finish at 12-under 202.

Bertsch won 2000 event, called the Upstate Classic and played at Verdae Greens, for his only other Nationwide Tour title.

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