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GOLF ROUNDUP

Hurst's fast start pays off

Pat Hurst shot a final round 4-under-par 68 and held off Jeong Jang to win the Safeway Classic at Columbia-Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Ore., yesterday.

Hurst finished with a 10-under 206 on the par-72, 6,327-yard course.

Hurst watched solemnly as Jang, who was at 9 under, missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 18 hole that would have forced a playoff.

Jang finished with a 70 for a 9-under 207, along with Kim Saiki, who shot a 67. Juli Inkster had a 70 to finish at 208.

``I had a pretty hot start; I birdied three of the first four holes, I think, and I just kept it steady after that," Hurst said.

Actually, she birdied four of the first five holes to finish with seven birdies, so she wasn't hurt by three bogeys after starting the day in a group a stroke behind the leaders.

It was Hurst's fifth victory on the LPGA Tour and first since last year's State Farm Classic. She lost to Annika Sorenstam in an 18-hole playoff at this year's US Women's Open.

Hurst, the 1995 rookie of the year, has been playing solidly this season with seven top-10 finishes.

Saiki, who sneaked onto the leaderboard for the final round, got married in January and has been playing a limited schedule. She admittedly has not been playing well on weekends this year, with a previous best-finish of 20th.

She finished the final round with five birdies and no bogeys.

``When I birdied 14, that was when I knew I had a chance," Saiki said.

Jang, who won last year's British Open, also took the Wegmans LPGA earlier this year.

Morgan Pressel, Jenna Daniels, Jang, and Candie Kung were the leaders by a stroke going into the final round, with six others one shot off the pace.

``When we started on the first hole of the day, it felt like 20 or 30 people could win it," Hurst said.

The finish was made tense when Hurst bogeyed the par-4 No. 17 hole to drop a stroke to 10 under. She missed her own birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given her a more comfortable margin over Jang.

Jang went to 10 under with a birdie on the par-4 11th but bogeyed the next hole. She played at par the rest of the way.

Hurst was cheered on loudly by Christina Kim, who also started the day at 6 under but shot a 73 to drop out of contention.

The rookie Pressel double bogeyed the par-3 No. 16 and then bogeyed the 17th for a 74 to finish the tournament at 5 under.

Champions -- Tom Kite took advantage of a wildly erratic Keith Fergus, who hit two spectators and the cart path three separate times during the one-hole playoff, to win the Boeing Greater Seattle Classic in Snoqualmie, Wash.

Kite, who began the day three behind second-round leader Don Pooley, shot a 6-under 66 to finish with a three-day score of 15-under 201. Fergus started five shots behind Pooley (70) and reached 15 under with a 64.

Kite birdied the playoff hole, the par-5, 554-yard No. 18, while Fergus bogeyed. It was Kite's ninth career Champions Tour victory.

``Going into the playoff, I felt like I was at a disadvantage because Fergie is one of the longest hitters on the Tour," Kite said.

But Fergus had finished nearly an hour earlier and might have lost his rhythm.

Both players' playoff drives were within 235 yards of the green. But Fergus, using a 3-iron on his second shot, pulled out of it. It hit the cart path and caromed into the right-side grandstands. A spectator, with a drink in one hand and his cap in another, caught it in his cap then quickly dropped it on the hill.

``I wish he would have let it go because it was so slick over there that it probably would have rolled into a better position than it was," Fergus said. ``That's just a reaction. He might have thought it would have helped me."

Fergus had to drop on the steep hill, then chunked his chip against the cart path curb. It bounced up the hill again, hitting a fan's leg, then rolled back onto the cart path.

European -- Alejandro Canizares won the Russian Open in Nakhabino by four strokes for his first European Tour title, closing with a 6-under 66 for a tournament-record 22-under 266.

Canizares, the 23-year-old son of former Ryder Cup player Jose-Maria Canizares, beat the tournament's previous top score of 19-under 269.

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