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Friday, September 13, 2013

Celebrating Helen Alfredsson

The First Evian Champion, Helen Alfredsson, 1994
Helen Alfredsson is playing her final professional golf tournament this weekend, The Evian Championship.  The 48-year old Swede has played some glorious golf on both the LPGA and LET Tours.  Her choice of The Evian as her final professional appearance resonates with symbolism.  Alfredsson is the first winner of The Evian (1994) and she won it again in 1998 a then one more time, a decade later, in 2008.  With fairways rolling through the French Alps and greens tucked into mountainsides, The Evian is the perfect venue for concluding a long and distinguished career!

Alfredsson's accomplishments leave me awestruck.  She twice earned Rookie of the Year, in 1989 from the LET and again in 1992 from the LPGA.  In the intervening years she won the Women's British Open, and in subsequent years she added 7 more victories and 82 top-10 tournament finishes to her resume, played in The Solheim Cup for Team Europe 7 times, and served as Team Europe's captain in 2007.

Helen Alfredsson

In addition to her winning golf style and her glamorous lifestyle, Alfredsson is also known for a salty on-course language.  The financial Times of London editorialized that her strings of Swedish profanity could be "louder and more richly worded than many of Lenny Bruce's best performances."

Predictably, Alfredsson responded: " . . . all of a sudden this little devil comes crawling out, saying 'It's time to do something. You've been good too long.'"  I can identify completely with Helen Alfredsson's explanation.  There are times when one's golf ball simply must be verbally abused!

So how was Alfredsson's first round today at The Evian?  With 4 birdies and 4 bogies, she carded even par.  Not a shabby score.  Laura Diaz was 8 shots over par and Inbee Park, the top-ranked woman golfer in the world and the defending champion at The Evian, shot 3 over par.  So Alfredsson's holding her own in this farewell to pro golf.  She's 6 shots off the lead going in to the 2nd round.  Don't count her out just yet!