Scherrer is solid gold in first PGA win

Posted: Monday, June 05, 2000

POTOMAC, Md. -- On Wednesday, Tom Scherrer received a solid gold ball marker as a good luck charm from one of his pro-am playing partners. Others in the fivesome had reminded Scherrer of the Kemper Open's legacy of producing first-time PGA Tour winners and had suggested it was maybe his turn.

Those amateurs knew what they were talking about. On Sunday, Scherrer, marking his ball with gold, became the tournament's ninth first-time winner.

''One of the guys gave me this solid gold ball mark,'' Scherrer said. ''He said, 'If you use this ball mark, you'll win the tournament.' I'm going to have that ball mark for a long time.''

Scherrer, who didn't lead until the back nine on the final day, closed with a 4-under-par 67 for a two-stroke victory. He was the only player to shoot sub-70 rounds each round, his 67-68-69-67 effort earning him the life-changing winner's check.

''I'm sure it will change,'' said Scherrer, whose $540,000 share accounts for about one-third of his career earnings. ''It's something I've been dreaming about forever. It's going to change my life, but it's not going to change me.''

Scherrer battled Steve Lowery, the leader or co-leader after each of the first three rounds, down the stretch. The difference: Lowery had two bogeys, while Scherrer had two incredible par saves.

The most difficult came at the 16th, when Scherrer sprayed his tee shot way right -- beyond the cart path and next to a green plastic trunk under the television crane.

''It's embarrassing to hit a shot that far off line,'' Scherrer said.

Scherrer was given a drop, only to hook his next shot into the back greenside bunker. His wedge shot landed within 3 feet, setting up a par to keep his one-stroke lead.

Scherrer is the fifth first-time tour winner this year, joining Kirk Triplett, Darren Clarke, Jim Carter and Robert Allenby. He also joins Fred Couples (1983), Greg Norman (1984), Bill Glasson (1985), Tom Byrum (1989), Billy Andrade (1991), Grant Waite (1993), Steve Stricker (1996) and Rich Beem (1999) as first-time tour winners at the Kemper.

BellSouth Senior Classic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Hale Irwin got the hang of his new putter just in time.

Using a new Titleist putter for only the fifth time, Irwin broke from the pack of leaders with a 7-under-par 65 for a one-stroke victory in the BellSouth Senior Classic on Sunday.

''That might've been one of the finest putting rounds I've ever had,'' Irwin said of his 28 putts, which ranged from 6 feet to as long as 30 feet.

Irwin started the final round tied with three others at 11 under, and eight golfers were within a stroke as he teed off. But he birdied the first three holes and finished with seven birdies for his second victory this year. He won the Nationwide Championship last month.

Only Gil Morgan stayed with Irwin as he tied the tournament record of 18-under 198, set by Isao Aoki in 1998. Morgan shot a 63 that kept him within a stroke of Irwin on the back nine.

He had his chances to grab a share of the lead but missed long birdie putts on each of his last three holes and finished at 199.

Kathy Ireland Classic

MURRELLS INLET, S.C. -- Grace Park had won tournaments before, including the U.S. Amateur two years ago. On Sunday, thanks a long rain delay that helped her relax and regroup, she has an LPGA title.

Park birdied Nos. 16 and 17, then made a par on the final hole for a 2-under-par 70 that gave her a 14-under 274 total and a one-stroke victory in the Kathy Ireland Classic over Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst.

''This win is something I'll remember,'' The 21-year-old rookie said. ''This I will carry on with me forever.''

Park trailed Inkster by three strokes after a 2-hour, 15-minute rain delay.

Park's birdies at 16 and 17 got her to 14 under and after Inkster missed a 10-foot par putt on the final hole for her second straight bogey, all Park had to do to win was par the 18th.

Park put her second shot just off the back fringe, about 40 feet away, then chipped about 4 feet past and knocked it in for the victory.

''I could feel my arms shake, but every time that happens I think the putt is going in,'' Park said. ''I don't want to be, but I can't control that.''

Park, who earned $125,000, said the rain delay was the key to her round.

''I needed that break,'' said Park, who was tiring in the sticky South Carolina temperatures that had reached close to 100 degrees on the weekend. ''I called for it.''

Park said she ate and watched a little television during the delay, but most importantly relaxed and regrouped.

''I missed some shots, some short putts the beginning of the round,'' Park said. ''I needed it to redeem myself.''

Hurst, who slammed her wedge into a tree on 17 after driving behind it with no chance at the green, nailed a 10-foot birdie putt on 18 for a 70 to tie Inkster for second.

Inkster, whose round included an eagle on No. 3, a 452-yard par-5, also closed with a 70.

Kristal Parker had a 71 and was fourth at 10-under 278.

Inkster appeared to have her 24th career title wrapped up. After the final round was halted by rain, she made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 12th and one from 8 feet on the next hole to go to 15 under.

She still seemed in control after a innocent lay-up to the par-5, 17th. But it skipped into thick grass behind the green and Inkster stubbed a chip. Her lead went to one when she missed a 15-foot putt from the fringe.

Meanwhile, Park playing a group behind Inkster, was on the way to a birdie, rolling a difficult chip from the right of the green within 4 feet for a tying birdie.

Inkster blew up again on the final hole, pushing her second shot right of the green, hitting it 10 feet past and missing the putt.

Inkster said she had trouble keeping track of where Park and Hurst stood because there were few scoreboards on the course.

''I'm disappointed, it was my tournament,'' Inkster said. But ''it was kind of hard to play the last two, three holes when you have no clue where you stand. I got out of my rhythm and she caught me.''

Park had her bobbles on the final hole. Her second shot hit the fringe beyond the green and she needed a delicate downhill chip and 4-foot putt to finish the victory.

Park was feeling hopeless and doubted her game a few weeks ago after missing four of six cuts. But she says a well-struck 3-wood off the 15th tee at the LPGA Corning Classic a week ago got her back on the right track.

That was never a problem for Park, who dominated amateur and college golf while at Arizona State. Is this the week she needed to join some the best in women's golf?

''I don't know,'' she said. ''I'm just happy to get the win.''

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