She had waited 20 months and 41 tournaments for this moment.
On Sunday, Betsy King finally got there. She won her spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame.
“The one word is just relief,” she said. “I didn’t think today was going to be my day, but I made a lot of putts when it counted.”
She completed the last step of her quest by shooting a 4-under-par 67 and capturing the $650,000 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
In winning her 30th title, King ended a stretch of 41 tournaments without a victory and automatically joined 13 other greats in the hall.
After making her last putt, King threw her arms in the air and hugged her caddy.
The 39-year-old from Reading, Pa., had been chasing her 30th victory since November 1993. She went winless in 1994, the first time since 1983 she didn’t win a title.
“She’s been waiting a long time for this one,” said Patty Sheehan, a fellow Hall of Fame member.
King sank a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to break a three-way tie and sealed the victory with a 12-footer for birdie on No. 18 to finish with a total of 9-under 204 at Greate Bay Resort and Country Club. Beth Daniel and Rosie Jones finished two strokes back.
Robin Walton of Clarkston finished 15 strokes off the pace at 219.
King’s best finish this year was a tie for third in the Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions in January, one of five top-10 finishes.
On Sunday, she started her round with a 20-yard drive off the tee at No. 1 but managed to save par on the 365-yard par 4. She blamed it on nerves and called it the worst tee shot she’d ever hit.
She birdied Nos. 4, 7, 8, 17 and 18. Her only bogey came on the 535-yard par 5 No. 9, when she missed a 4-foot putt and dropped into a tie with Jones at 7-under.
“The putter was definitely the key today,” she said. “I made a lot of key putts.”
At one point, she also shared the lead with Daniel, Dottie Mochrie and Tammie Green.
She shot a 66 for the first-round lead - despite splitting her round over two days because of rain delays - and followed with an even-par second round Saturday.
King, who earned $97,500 for the victory, came in as the LPGA earnings leader at $5 million, the first to reach that mark. She was the LPGA player of the year in 1984, ‘89 and ‘93.
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