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Stanford holds off Wie for title

ANGELA Stanford held off rookie Michelle Wie to win her fourth LPGA Tour title by three shots at the season-opening SBS Open in Hawaii on Saturday.

Tied for the overnight lead with fellow American Wie, Stanford trailed by three strokes with eight holes remaining before taking control with a spectacular burst of three consecutive birdies from the 13th.

Ice-cool over the closing stretch at Turtle Bay Resort Golf Club in Kahuku, Stanford parred the last three holes for a two-under-par 70 and a 10-under total of 206.

Wie, making her first start as an LPGA member, saw her title chances fade with a double-bogey at the 11th and settled for second after a 73.

South Korea's Choi Na-yeon birdied three of the last six holes for a 69 and a tie for third with Brazil's Angela Park (75) at four-under.

"I didn't think she was going to make a mistake," world No. 8 Stanford said of Wie. "She played really smart for about 10 holes. She does a lot of things right."

The final round on the wind-swept Palmer Course at Turtle Bay came down to a head-to-head duel between the 31-year-old Stanford and the 19-year-old Wie.

Stanford, who finished no worse than tied for sixth in her last six events on the 2008 LPGA Tour, edged in front when she got up and down from a greenside bunker to birdie the third.

Wie immediately leveled, rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt at the fourth and pumping her right fist in celebration.

Stanford made her first bogey of the week at the par-3 eighth, missing a three-footer, before Wie rammed in an 18-foot birdie putt on the ninth green to move two ahead.

Stanford again stumbled to trail by three with a bogey on 10, pulling her drive into an unplayable lie, but Wie's lead was then cut to one after her mishap on 11.

"It's disappointing," said Stanford University student Wie, who earned her LPGA Tour card in December by tying for seventh place at the tour's qualifying school. "It's not what I wanted but, at the same time, I had a good week. I will take a lot of positive thoughts from this."

Wie had been bidding for her first victory since claiming the 2003 US women's amateur public links title aged 13.

In Melbourne, England's Laura Davies saved her best golf for the weekend, going 11-under-par over the final two rounds to win the Women's Australian Open yesterday for the second time.

Davies, the 2004 champion, shot a final-round five-under 68 to go with a 67 on Saturday for a one-stroke victory over Spain's Tania Elosegui.

The 45-year-old Davies finished with a seven-under total of 285. Davies bogeyed the 18th hole while Elosegui birdied 17, putting the Spanish player into the lead with one hole to go and Davies in the clubhouse. But Elosegui (70) had a double-bogey six on the 18th to give Davies the title.


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