Kelly Robbins didn’t let horrid weather or a three-shot deficit stand in the way of her quest for her first major title.
Robbins birdied three of the final seven holes Sunday to rally past defending champion Laura Davies for a one-stroke victory in the LPGA Championship.
Playing in a steady rain and in temperatures that dipped into the lower 50s, Robbins won her third career tournament with a 3-under-par 68, the day’s low round. She finalized the victory with a 2-foot par putt on 18, finishing at 10-under 274 to capture the $180,000 top prize.
“I couldn’t hit the ball much better today,” Robbins said. “I’ve been praying for patience all week, to hang tough under certain situations. To tell you the truth, my heart didn’t start beating until I had that two-foot putt to win.”
On a weekend when the LPGA was in the news over comments about lesbianism and its possible effect on corporate sponsorship, Robbins was able to get the focus back on the course with her final-round comeback.
Down by three strokes with seven holes to play, Robbins used birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 to get within one shot of Davies. Both parred 15, and the lead changed hands on the pivotal 465-yard, par-5 16th.
Robbins put her tee shot to the right of the cart path and then hit her second shot into the bunker. But she chipped within three feet and made the putt for a birdie, moments after Davies blew a four-foot putt for her only bogey of the day.
“Two shots at that stage of the game is quite a bit. I’m sure she was disappointed at the turn of events,” Robbins said.
“The bogey on 16 cost me the tournament. It was just a nightmare,” Davies said.
In the past four weeks, Robbins has one win, two seconds and a ninth-place finish.
“I’ve been playing well for weeks. This week, I just happened to come out on top, and it being a major makes it that much more special,” she said.
Davies shot a 70 - 15 pars, one bogey and two birdies. She was bidding to win a third straight tournament at the 6,386-yard DuPont Country Club course, and appeared on her way after finishing No. 11 with a three-shot lead.
Instead, Davies had to settle for the $111,711 second-place purse. It was the seventh time in nine events this season that she finished in the top six.
“I just wasn’t good enough on the last few holes and Kelly was,” Davies said. “But it was still a great week. I finished second in a major and was beaten by a great champion.”
Davies, who began the day with a one-shot lead over Robbins, shot a 68-68-69-70. Her bogey on No. 16 ruined her shot at victory and also ended her bid to become the second person in LPGA history to break 70 in four straight rounds in a major tournament. Betsy King did it in the 1992 LPGA Championship in Bethesda, Md.
Patty Sheehan (73), Julie Larsen (71) and Marianne Morris (72) ended in a three-way tie for third at 280.
Davies used a birdie on No. 4 to break out of a tie with Robbins and move to nine under. She followed that with a brilliant chip out of the sand on 5, holing the shot from 50 feet for a birdie and a two-shot lead.
Robbins bogeyed No. 7 to fall three strokes back. Davies, in the midst of a run of 10 straight pars, made the turn at 10 under, three shots better than Robbins and five ahead of Sheehan.
Davies parred No. 10 despite nicking a branch on her backswing with her approach. Robbins then had a chance to shave the lead to two strokes, but her 3-foot putt on the par-4 10th lipped out.
“When I missed that putt, it got me started thinking,” Robbins said. “But I just couldn’t give up.”
The winner of the Dinah Shore, the year’s first major, was Nanci Bowen and she finished with a 74 for a 287 total, 13 strokes off the lead.
Tracy Hansen of Rathdrum, Idaho, shot a 75 for a four-day total of 296 and won $1,313.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: LEADERBOARD Scores and earnings Sunday after the final round of the $1.2 million LPGA Championship: Kelly Robbins, $180,000 274 Laura Davies, $111,711 275 Julie Larsen, $65,416 280 Marianne Morris, $65,416 280 Patty Sheehan, $65,416 280
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