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Nordqvist's maiden tour win is a major

US Tour rookie Anna Nordqvist held off a late charge by Australian Lindsey Wright and won the LPGA Championship by four strokes at Bulle Rock on Sunday.

Nordqvist, wielding a hot putter, shot a 68 in the final round in Havre de Grace, Maryland, capping it off with a four-foot birdie at the last for a total of 15-under-par 273.

The Swede made the women's major her first victory in an LPGA tournament in her fifth start on the circuit.

She said afterward she received encouragement from role model Annika Sorenstam, the Swede who retired last year with 72 wins, including 10 majors.

"She gave me a few words before the round. 'Keep doing what I'm doing. Take it one shot at a time'," Nordqvist told reporters. "It meant a lot to me, knowing you have support and someone believes in you. It meant a lot to me."

Nordqvist, who won last year's British Amateur title, began the round with a two-shot lead over Wright and stretched it to five by the seventh hole.

Playing in the final pairing with Nordqvist, Wright stormed back with birdies at eight and nine. A birdie at the par-three 12th brought the Australian within two.

Then Nordqvist produced her first three-putt of the event to bogey the 13th and drop to 12-under, just one shot ahead of the Australian. However, the tall Swede rose to the challenge.

Nordqvist, world-ranked 214th, drained a 35-foot birdie putt at the 14th and followed with a 14-footer for birdie at 15 to restore a comfortable lead.

Finishing tied for third was British Open winner Shin Ji-yai, who shot 68 for 10-under 278, one stroke better than fellow South Korean Bae Kyeong. Americans Nicole Castrale, Angela Stanford and Kristy McPherson were tied at eight-under.

In Memphis, Tennessee, American Brian Gay crowned a consistent week by clinching the St Jude Classic on Sunday with a five-shot win over compatriots David Toms and Bryce Molder.

The 37-year-old Gay finished on 18-under to claim his third PGA Tour win, and his second of the year, having led after all four rounds at the TPC Southwind.

World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, returning from a five-week layoff after his wife was diagnosed with cancer last month, shot a disappointing five-over 75 to finish one-over for the week.

Mickelson ended tied for 59th along with twice major winner John Daly, who returned to the PGA Tour after a six-month ban for improper conduct.

Gay, who won the Heritage Classic in April, has now booked himself a starting place in next week's US Open.

The Texan also picked up US$1 million for the win.

Australians John Senden and Robert Allenby finished tied fourth, six shots off Gay, along with American Paul Goydos.


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