Inkster survives to win sixth major title

Posted: Monday, June 26, 2000

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Juli Inkster turned in a repeat performance in every way but one Sunday in the LPGA Championship.

She was too tired to dance.

When Inkster tapped in for par on her 20th hole to end an exhausting, gut-wrenching afternoon, she whipped her putter over her head, wrapped up her 10-year-old daughter in her arms and whispered to Hayley, ''I'm getting too old for this.''

One day after she turned 40, Inkster became the first player in 16 years to successfully defend the LPGA Championship.

Despite a 4-over 75, the highest closing round by an LPGA champion in at least 25 years, she executed the right shot on a key moment to beat Stefania Croce of Italy on the second playoff hole.

''At this point in my career, just winning a major is what it's all about,'' Inkster said. ''It means a lot to me, just to prove I can still play with these girls. I work hard at the game. I love the game. I love competing. It's in my blood.''

On a day of survival, the 30-year-old Croce had the right idea. She got out of the way with a 68 to finish early at 281, then waited for everyone else to come back to her. Inkster obliged by hitting into the bunker on the 18th and missing a 6-foot par putt.

''I thought 4 under would win,'' Croce said. ''So, even though I lost, I still had a good time. I tried to win, but I don't feel that bad.''

Wendy Ward, who shared the 54-hole lead with Inkster, called a one-stroke penalty on herself when her ball moved as she stood over a par putt on the 13th hole. She wound up one stroke out of the playoff.

''I don't feel like I lost the tournament because of that one shot,'' said Ward, who bogeyed the 18th for a 76 that put her at 282. ''I made a number of poor swings that I would say cost me the tournament.''

A year ago, Inkster won the LPGA Championship on a softer, more forgiving Dupont Country Club course with an eagle-birdie-birdie finish. That victory allowed her to join Pat Bradley as the only women to complete the modern Grand Slam, and she let loose with jig on the 18th green.

This was her sixth major, as many as any other active player on tour, but she had nothing left for a dance of any kind.

''I didn't have any reason to dance,'' Inkster said. ''I was too tired.''

She had enough strength left to scoop 6-year-old Cori into her arms, and hoist another major championship trophy over her head.

Inkster became the first player since Patty Sheehan in 1983-84 to successfully defend the LPGA Championship.

This one might have aged her.

Leading by three strokes with five holes to play, Inkster hit three trees to take double-bogey on 14, then missed the par putt on 18.

No shame there. Only 10 players broke par, the course played nearly three strokes over par and the final 10 players on the course averaged 74.4.

Ward finished tied with Se Ri Pak (71) and Nancy Scranton (73).

Karrie Webb, going for the second leg of the Grand Slam and her third straight major, was 4 under through eight holes until she started missing fairways. Webb had a 73 and finished at even-par 284.

''It was a survival test out there,'' Inkster said.

St. Jude Classic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Notah Begay shot a 2-under-par 69 Sunday to beat Bob May and Chris DiMarco by one stroke and win the St. Jude Classic, his third PGA Tour victory.

Begay survived a shootout that had five golfers within two strokes of his lead with four holes left. But he avoided any major mistakes and finished with a 13-under 271 total.

It was his first win since last October at the Michelob Championship. It was also his first victory since spending seven days in jail last March for a drunken driving conviction.

May had led after the second and third rounds, but he lost his lead on the back nine Sunday with two straight bogeys. He finished with a 71 and was tied with DiMarco, who closed with a 69.

Pete Jordan (66), Russ Cochran (69) and Joe Ogilvie (70) all tied for fourth at 273.

With a field that featured none of the PGA Tour's top money-winners, Begay's experience as a two-time winner last year as a rookie made the difference.

Begay had to scramble for what turned out to be his clinching birdie on the par-5 16th. He hit his second shot into the rough right of the green about 20 yards from the hole. He chipped within 3 feet and made the putt to go 14 under.

He gave back a shot on the toughest hole on the TPC at Southwind course, the par-4 17th, when he again hit right of the green. With the pin on the far left, he settled for a bogey.

Cadillac NFL Classic.

CLIFTON, N.J. -- Lee Trevino ended a 27-month victory drought by shooting a 3-under-par 69 to capture the Cadillac NFL Classic by two strokes in a tournament record-tying performance Sunday.

Trevino, who turned 60 in December, won impressively, easing in a downhill 5-foot putt for birdie to finish at 14-under-par 202, tying the tournament record set by Bob Murphy in 1996.

''I'm going to buy me a house down the street,'' Trevino quipped after posting his second win in this event, where he has never finished worse than ninth since 1993. He had 17 birdies and three bogeys all week.

It marked the 10th time on the Senior PGA Tour that a 60-year-old has won, with Trevino being the ninth player to accomplish the feat, and the second this year following George Archer. Jimmy Powell did it twice in the mid 1990s.

The win was a senior tour-leading 29th for Trevino, but only his second in the last 45 months. His last win was in the Southwestern Bell Dominion in San Antonio, Texas, on March 29, 1998. That ended an 18-month victory drought.

Trevino earned $165,000, pushing his earnings this year to $411,636 and his career bankroll on the senior tour to more than $9 million, only the third player to pass that mark. Hale Irwin and Jim Colbert have earned $10 million each.

Walter Hall birdied the last two holes to finish off a 6-under-par 66 that put him alone in second place at 12-under-par 204. Defending champion Allen Doyle (72), Mike McCullough (68) and Leonard Thompson (67) finished tied for third at 11-under on the tree-lined Upper Montclair Country Club.

Doyle, who overcame a bad back to win in a playoff last year, started the final round tied for the lead with Trevino at 11 under. Television golf analyst Gary McCord was a shot back and playing in the same final threesome.

McCord was never a factor and finished with a 75, falling into a tie for ninth in a group that included Tom Watson (67).

After three early bogeys that gave Trevino the lead for good, Doyle rallied to draw within two shots at No. 16, and it could have been closer had Doyle's 12-foot birdie putt on that hole not stayed on the lip.

After both bogeyed the 17th, Trevino closed out the tournament, hitting his second shot into the greenside bunker at the par-5, No. 18. His blasted out to 5 feet and sank the putt to end.

Trevino's biggest shot of the round might have been his second on the opening hole. His drive landed in the rough above a fairway bunker and he had to take his stance on the second with one foot in the trap and another out of it. His punch shot landed on the green and he made a 3-footer for par, one of at least seven short putts he made to save par in the round.

When Doyle banged a 2-foot par putt off the back of the cup at No. 2, Trevino had the lead. He stretched the advantage to two strokes with a downhill 10-footer on the par-3 third hole and it became three when he made another downhill putt in the 10-foot range on the par-5 fifth.

Doyle fell behind by as many as five shots on the front nine. He bogeyed No. 4 after hitting into a fairway bunker and bogeyed the sixth after chunking a wedge from less than 100 yards.

Doyle rallied with consecutive birdies on the final three holes of the front nine to draw within two shots of Trevino, but he hit into a greenside bunker on No. 10 to fall three behind.

Trevino, who had only one bogey in the first 51 holes of this tournament, bogeyed No. 16 after hitting his second over the green. Doyle had a chance to draw within a shot but left his 12-foot birdie putt on the lip.

Doyle and Trevino put their tee shots inches apart in the bunker on the par-3 17th and both made bogey, with Trevino getting lucky when his shot smacked the pin hard and stayed on the green.



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