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Inkster fired a final-round 71 on the 6,433-yard
course at Old Waverly Golf Club, in West Point, Miss., to defeat Sherri
Turner by five strokes. Kepi Kuehne, 22, finished third at 279. It was
the best Women's Open finish for all three contestants.
Inkster took a four-stroke lead into the
final round, then struggled early. She was forced to make a four-foot
putt for a par on the first hole, then birdied the second. A bogey on
the fifth hole was followed by a birdie on the sixth. A key to her win
was a bunker shot on the seventh. With her ball in a soft, "fried-egg"
lie, Inkster played a newly-learned shot, blasting the ball to within
a foot of the hole and saving par.
"That was the all-world bunker shot, right
there," Inkster said. "It was huge." Inkster's lead over Kuehne,her nearest
pursuer for most of the round, never shrunk to less than three strokes.
"When I drove the ball into the fairway on 18, I just felt like it was
my tournament, and I'm the champion," Inkster said. "I probably played
four of my most consistent rounds of golf that I've ever played. It's
great to come out on top."
Turner, 42, came within four strokes of
Inkster when she holed a 7-wood on the 408-yard 11th for eagle 2. Bogeys
on the next two holes, however, slowed Turner's charge.
Kuehne pulled within three strokes on the
fifth hole, when Inkster bogeyed, and on the eighth hole when Inkster
again bogeyed. But Kuehne faltered with bogeys on the loth and 16th. On
the final hole, she drove into the water and made a double-bogey to fall
from a tie for second into third place.
Inkster's win came seven years after she
lost the Women's Open in a playoff. In 1992, Inkster led Patty Sheehan
by two strokes with two holes to play. Sheehan birdied the final two holes,
forcing an 18-hole playoff, which she won. In 1988, Inkster led the Women's
Open after 36 holes, but eventually finished seventh.
A number of scoring records were broken.
Inkster's 16-under par total broke the 10-under-par record, set by Alison
Nicholas in 1997. Her 72hole total of 272 tied Annika Sorenstam's stroke
total, which was set on a par-71 course in 1996. Reigning U.S. Women's
Amateur champion Grace Park finished her amateur career by breaking the
Women's Open amateur scoring record. Park's 283 total broke the record
of 290, set by Jenny Chuasiriporn in 1998.
Announced attendance for the week was 101,854,
the third-highest total in Women's Open history. The 1998 Women's Open,
in Kohler, Wis., drew 123,000. The 1997 Women's Open, in Northfield, Ore.,
drew 109,000 spectators.
Starts - 29
Best Finish - Winner 1999 & 2002
Rds - 101
Cuts Made - 21
Top 3 - 3
Top 5 - 3
Top 10 - 6
Top 25 - 12
Avg. - 73.68
Scores In 60s - 12
Rds Under Par - 19
Earnings - $1,299,168.28