The Evian Masters boosted its prize fund to half a million pounds, attracting a quality field for the first event of the 1998 European Tour season. Always the No. 1 event in continental Europe, the Evian Masters had become one of the 10 biggest tournaments in the world.
Once again it was the inimitable Helen Alfredsson who won the title, producing a magical last round of 65, seven under par, to see off her Swedish compatriot Maria Hjorth.
While Alfredsson finished on 277, 11 under par overall, Hjorth was four shots adrift with English duo Trish Johnson and Alison Nicholas a further shot behind in a tie for third.
Alfredsson had recently recovered from back surgery. “It’s such a treat to be enjoying golf again,” she said.
Helen Alfredsson gets a kick out of calling herself “Grandma,” particularly when it suits her. It did Sunday. The 43-year-old Swede shot a 7-under 65 on Sunday to win the Grand China Air tournament, beating 19-year-old Yani Tseng of Taiwan by three strokes for her second victory of the season.
Alfredsson joked about her age earlier this season after winning the Evian Masters for the third time. She was at it again after this victory, taking a good-natured jab at Tseng, who won the LPGA Championship this season as a rookie.
“Today I said to her, ‘You got beat by a grandma. You need to start beating her,”’ she said.
Alfredsson, Europe’s 2007 Solheim Cup captain, trailed second-round leader Karen Stupples by five strokes entering the final round of the 54-hole event, the first LPGA tournament in China.
She ran off six birdies on the first 10 holes. The final one in that surge gave her the outright lead, moving her to 11 under for the tournament and a stroke clear of Stupples. She went to 13 under with birdies on 14 and 17. Alfredsson played three groups ahead of the final threesome, and left the door slightly open with a poor chip and a dropped shot at 18.
“I was certain at that point,” Alfredsson said. “I was 4 up and I didn’t have huge pressure on me for the chip shot. But it was not a great shot. But it’s great to be on 18 and have a four-shot lead.”
Alfredsson finished at 12-under 204 after opening rounds of 70 and 69. The victory was worth $270,000, pushing her career earnings past $5 million.
Tseng also started five back. She finished with a 68 to go with rounds of 72 and 67. It was the fifth time this season she’s been the runner-up.
Laura Diaz of the United States, the first-round leader after a 63, had a round of 72 and was four back. Stupples of England was five off the pace with a 75.
Young Kim of South Korea had a 71, six back, and China’s Shanshan Feng carded a 68 and finished seven behind. Feng is the only Chinese player on the LPGA Tour.
Diaz and Stupples were trying to end victory droughts. Stupples hasn’t won in four years, and Diaz in six. They both crashed on the back nine, where Stupples had four bogeys and Diaz had three.
Alfredsson said she’s likely to play only another year or two, joining fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam, who will step away from golf after this season. But she still gets pleasure beating players who are decades younger, like Tseng.
“They don’t want to get beat by us because we are so old, and we still want to beat them because they are so young,” Alfredsson said.
Alfredsson praised American stars like Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer, and a young group of South Koreans like Seon-hwa Lee, Inbee Park and In-kyung Kim.
She added Tseng and Feng to the list, suggesting China could become a power in women’s golf. This event is on the LPGA schedule for next season, although the venue has not been announced.
“I’m so happy I’m not going to be on tour when all the Chinese girls come out,” Alfredsson said. “I’ll be retired. They (Chinese) have a great work ethic, and obviously I think it’s great they’ve seen the Korean girls being very successful. … So it’s just a matter of time.”
Tseng was the crowd favorite at the West Coast Golf Club, located on China’s tropical island of Hainan. Conditions were sultry Sunday, broken only by a light breeze off the Strait of Qiongzhou, which links the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea.
Earlier this season, Sorenstam, who finished 10 off the pace with a 72 on Sunday, said Tseng would be the No. 1-ranked player in three seasons.
“That was very exciting,” Tseng said Sunday. “I can’t believe she would say that because she is my idol. I don’t want her to be disappointed so I will work hard.”
It’s a mistake to think that, once learned, the fundamentals take care of themselves. You have to keep on fine-tuning golf’s basics. For me, that means keeping an eye on my grip and making sure that I turn fully back and through. These thoughts may help you play better, too. Read the whole articel in; Golf Today Tuition
Born: Gothenburg, Sweden
Major wins: 1
Professional wins: 23
Playing Style: Power, grace and precision
Alfredsson was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. She represented Sweden in European Junior and Senior Team championships. She was a member of the Swedish team in the Espirito Santo Trophy World Amateur Team Championship in 1986 and 1988 and is a six-time Swedish national champion winning from 1981–1984, in 1986 and 1998.
She attended United States International University and graduated in 1988 with a degree in International Business and then tried a career in Paris as a model whilst flying with the Blue Angels and learning to ride a motorcycle. During 1986-1988 she played five times on the Swedish Telia Tour, winning at least once a year. She turned professional on 1st January 1989.
Alfredsson began her professional career on the Ladies European Tour where she was rookie of the year in 1989. The next year, in 1990, she claimed her maiden professional win at the Women’s British Open. She won twice on the LET in 1991 and won once each on the ALPG and Japanese tours. She earned exempt status for the 1992 LPGA Tour season by tying for 17th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
She earned Rookie of the Year honors on the LPGA Tour in 1992 and has won seven LPGA Tour events, including one LPGA major: the 1993 Nabisco Dinah Shore.
Alfredsson has continued to play a limited number of events in Europe, where she has won eleven events. She finished at the top of the European money list in 1998. She has been a member of the European team in the Solheim Cup five times: in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002. She was captain of the European Solheim Cup team in the 2007 Solheim Cup, in which Europe lost to the USA 12-16.
Here’s Helen Alfredsson about to take a bite out of French soccer star Zinedine Zidane after she won the 2008 Evian Masters. What’s your caption for this photo?
”The hot dog she had at the turn just didn’t fill up Helen Alfredsson.”
Golf Spelled Backwards
The Ladies European Tour is delighted to announce that Helen Alfredsson will be the Captain of The 2007 European Solheim Cup Team. Alfredsson, 40, will be the Captain for the tenth Solheim Cup Match at Halmstad Golfklubb in Sweden, from September 14-16th, 2007. She becomes the third Swedish golfer to captain a European Solheim Cup Team against the United States following in the footsteps of Catrin Nilsmark (2003, 2005) and Pia Nilsson (1998). Alfredsson, who led the European PING Junior Solheim Cup Team to victory in 2003, made seven successive appearances in The Solheim Cup as a player from 1990 and has a 10-12-2 record. She has earned 11 points with 10 wins and two halved matches from 24 matches.
”I have so many great memories from The Solheim Cup and to be chosen is such a great honour,” Alfredsson said. ”To be the European Captain at home, back in my own country and so close to where I grew up, really is an overwhelming feeling.”
Alfredsson was born in Gothenburg, Sweden. She represented Sweden in European Junior and Senior Team championships. She was a member of the Swedish team in the Espirito Santo Trophy World Amateur Team Championship in 1986 and 1988 and is a six-time Swedish national champion winning from 1981-1984, in 1986 and 1998. She attended United States International University and graduated in 1988 with a degree in International Business and then tried a career in Paris as a model whilst flying with the Blue Angels and learning to ride a motorcycle. During 1986-1988 she played five times on the Swedish Telia Tour, winning at least once a year. She turned professional on 1 January 1989. Alfredsson began her professional career on the Ladies European Tour where she was rookie of the year in 1989. The next year, in 1990, she claimed her maiden professional win at the Women’s British Open. She won twice on the LET in 1991 and won once each on the ALPG and Japanese tours. She earned exempt status for the 1992 LPGA Tour season by tying for 17th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. She earned Rookie of the Year honors on the LPGA Tour in 1992 and has won seven LPGA Tour events, including one LPGA major: the 1993 Nabisco Dinah Shore. Alfredsson has continued to play a limited number of events in Europe, where she has won eleven events. She finished at the top of the European money list in 1998. She has been a member of the European team in the Solheim Cup five times: in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002. She was captain of the European Solheim Cup team in the 2007 Solheim Cup, in which Europe lost to the USA 12-16. Alfredsson is married to former National Hockey League player Kent Nilsson and stepmother of his son, hockey player Robert Nilsson.
Women of Sports is a tribute to the hot and sexy female athletes of the highest level of sport.
In This Photo: Helen Alfredsson, Michelle Ellis, Michael Whan, Leslie Greis, Dawn Hudon
Michael Whan is announced as the new commissioner of the LPGA and poses for a photo with LPGA directors Leslie Greis (L) and Dawn Hudson (2nd L) and LPGA players Helen Alfredsson (2nd R) and Michelle Ellis (R) following a press conference at Madison Square Garden on October 28, 2009 in New York, New York.
European Tour on Thursday named Helen Alfredsson captain for the 2007 European Solheim Cup team. Alfredsson is the third Swedish woman .
St Andrews has welcomed all manner of golfers over the decades. From the legendary such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, to the celebrated such as Sean Connery, Bob Hope and Tom Cruise, to princes and presidents, sheikhs and shysters, rockers and rollers.
But nobody, I venture to suggest, quite like Helen Alfredsson. Flame of hair and aquamarine of eye, ‘Alfie’ has a tale to tell unlike any other. She has won two majors (the 1990 British Open and the Dinah Shore Classic in 1993) and might have won a stack more but for a dodgy pelvis and a capricious temperament. A Swedish wild-child in her teens, she became a Parisian model in her twenties, prefers a Harley Davidson to a Hummer, has a Florida State drag racing licence, and over a beer or three is just about the most captivating companion you could wish to meet.
Four years after the most recent of her 17 tournament victories around the world, our Helen is unlikely to feature at the top of the leaderboard come the climax of the Women’s British Open at the weekend, but when not compiling a dossier on the probable European team which she will captain in next month’s Solheim Cup contest against the Americans in her native Sweden, you can safely assume she will be spreading her unique brand of mischief and mayhem throughout the auld grey toun.
”Oh, I’ve had some great times,” she sighs in an accent which still conjures up images of Greta Garbo, despite her many years on the US Tour. ”I think when you are so dedicated to something like golf from a very young age there comes a time when you must freak out.”
Was it true that as a teenager you were the founding sister of a notorious after-school drinking club in Gothenburg which routinely ‘freaked out’ until the wee small hours of the morning?
Those twinkling twin lasers widen in all innocence. ”Two rules. I never stayed out past 6am, and I never missed classes – even if I often didn’t go to bed at all and turned up wearing exactly the same clothes as the night before. And I have no regrets. Okay, if I hadn’t had any drive to be a champion, it could have been disastrous. But it wasn’t the age of drugs, which are the real problem today. I don’t think it’s wrong to go out and have a few beers with your friends. I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today if I hadn’t had those different experiences, if life had always been on an even keel.”
Those ‘different experiences’ include meeting a man at a dance who spun her the age-old line – have you ever thought about doing any modelling? And so to Paris, where she adored ‘making a cafe au lait spin out all afternoon while watching the world go by on the Boulevard St Michel’, but where she formed a loathing of what she now refers to as, ”the meat market. Modelling was cosmetics, calories and drugs, and I got out of it fast.” She escaped Paris (which remains her favourite city) having lost the best part of two stones and acquired the first alarming symptoms of anorexia.
To the International University in San Diego where she majored in her personal philosophy of ‘life-is-not-a-rehearsal’ while studying business and marketing on a golf scholarship. As dedicated as she was to becoming a champion, the fragrant Helen also contrived to get herself dropped from the university golf team three times in four years for assorted breaches of discipline.
For those of you who have never seen our heroine with a club in her hands, I should explain that Alfie attacks each golf course in the same uninhibited style in which she attacks life (she had to clock 264mph to gain her drag racing licence). In 1993, she went into the final round of the US Open with a two-stroke lead and lost by one stroke to Laurie Merton, and 12 months later at Indianwood, Michigan, she was 13 under par after 43 holes – eight clear of second-placed Patty Sheehan – when the wheels came off and she dropped 14 shots over the last 29 holes to finish ninth.
”Golf is an inexplicable game,” she says. ”One moment it was like I couldn’t miss, the next it was gone. Suddenly the fairway looked as narrow as a strand of thread. I had absolutely no feeling in my hands.” Her dignity and equanimity in defeat – ”What’s the point in treating people like s*** just because you’ve had a s****y day?” – brought Alfredsson a host of new admirers, and the following weekend came just reward when she won the 1994 Welch’s Championship in Boston. ”It was weird. As much as I’d lost it at the US Open, the touch was back. I don’t know why it went, and I don’t know how it returned. I think you just have to live with those moments. You grab the good ones and you try to forget the bad ones. You might think I’m wacko but I don’t care – hell, you know I’m wacko – but I do feel we all get tested in life.”
Although a resident of the US where she lives with her husband (former NHL ice hockey player Kent Nilsson), Helen will forever be a European in her heart; Gothenburg is still home, Paris is still for pleasure and Rome is still for recollections of an old boyfriend who lasted six months but provided her with a vast repertoire of risque Italian jokes.
I have been privileged to interview all manner of athletes (including Nicklaus, Palmer and Player, as it happens) but nobody quite like Helen Alfredsson.
Helen Alfredsson from Sweden became the first winner of the 2008 LPGA Grand China Air title in Hainan’s capital Haikou.
The 43-year-old won with a brilliant seven-under-par 65 in the final round, finishing three shots ahead of Taiwan’s Yani Tseng who was a crowd favourite at the West Coast Golf club.
Alfredsson also carded eight birdies at the first LPGA Tour event staged in China.
Prior to the LPGA Tour, Alfredsson had won the Evian Masters for the third time and joked about her age. After this victory, Alfredsson was at it again, jokingly referring to herself as a “grandma” and taking a good-natured jab at her competitor Tseng.
“Today I said to her, ‘You got beat by a grandma. You need to start beating her,”’ she said.
“I’m so happy I’m not going to be on tour when all the Chinese girls come out,” Alfredsson said.
“I’ll be retired. They (Chinese) have a great work ethic, and obviously I think it’s great they’ve seen the Korean girls being very successful. … So it’s just a matter of time.”