King beats Okamoto by 1 in Big Apple GOLF


NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Betsy King lost all of a five-shot lead, then rallied for a 73 and a one-stroke victory over Ayako Okamoto in the LPGA JAL Big Apple Classic yesterday.

King, the defending champion, needed all of her guile and power to hold off Okamoto, who shot a 4-under-par 67, yesterday's lowest score, on the Wykagyl Country Club course.

King made her second birdie of the day on No. 15 and parred in for a 5-under 279 total. It was her 25th career win and second this season, marking the eighth straight year King has won twice.

By the third hole of the final round, King had built a five-stroke lead. Okamoto had not yet begun her move and was nine back.

But King bogeyed four times and did not birdie again until 15. At that 430-yard uphill par-5, she was on in two and 2-putted.

While King was backing up with bogeys at Nos. 4, 7, 10 and 12, Okamoto was surging. She had bogeyed No. 1, but then made par until the ninth. Then she birdied Nos. 10, 12, 14 and 15.

At the par-5 18th, Okamoto missed a 15-footer for birdie and made par. King barely missed reaching the green in two and needed only a tap-in for par and the victory.

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