Sheehan's encore to LPGA Fame is a major score Her final round of 69 produces 1-stroke victory

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BETHESDA -- Patty Sheehan's response to what she would do for an encore after she made the LPGA Hall of Fame was clear and unmistakable.

She would keep winning.

She had reached the required 30 wins for automatic Hall of Fame enshrinement in March at the Standard Register Ping in Phoenix. Now she would search for No. 31, never mind complacency and never mind that she's 36 years old.

Entering the final round two strokes behind, Sheehan shot a 69 for a nine-under 275 to capture the $1 million Mazda LPGA Championship yesterday at Bethesda Country Club.

Lauri Merten had four birdies on the first eight holes and finished second at 276 after a 67, and Barb Bunkowsky was third at 277 after a 70. Third-round leader Jenny Lidback soared to a 78 and tied for 17th.

Sheehan, the 13th Hall of Fame player, won her fourth major and third LPGA title, climbing over Trish Johnson into first place on this year's money list with $366,826. First prize yesterday was $150,000, plus a new Mazda.

"I am so glad to get over this No. 30 business," Sheehan said. "People asked what I would do after I got in the Hall of Fame. How would I feel? Well, I feel exactly the same. I just want to keep playing well. I'm not going to roll over and die just because I'm in the Hall."

The 30-victory rule for Hall of Fame inclusion bothers Sheehan. She thinks it should be changed, but has no recommendation as to how. All she knows is that since Pat Bradley reached 30 two years ago, she hasn't been the same.

"It made [her] lose her motivation," Sheehan said. "The Hall is set up for you to get in and then go away. Amy Alcott has 29, and it's devastating to her that she can't get 30. That's a crime."

Aside from that somber note, Sheehan was in rare form in the interview room yesterday. On a table in front of her was a bottle of champagne on ice and the 120-year-old winner's silver cup.

"I'm going to pop this sucker," she said, proceeding to send the cork into the audience.

Sheehan took a sip from a small goblet, then poured the rest of the bottle into the silver cup and drank deeply from it.

And the Mazda? What would she do with that?

"Put it in my garage," she said, "with the three other cars."

Sheehan made it plain that this is not the end of her encore. She wants to win the U.S. Open a second time. She wants to become Player of the Year for the first time since 1983.

As Lidback faded, Sheehan, playing with her, took the lead on the third hole with a birdie to go eight under.

"I imagine Jenny was nervous," Sheehan said of her partner, whose previous best finish in a major was a tie for 64th. "It's difficult to be in that position for the first time. I felt for her. But the experience will help make her a better player."

Sheehan was as many as 10-under until she bogeyed the 16th, leaving her one shot ahead of Merten.

"That was a tough hole for me," Sheehan said. "I tried to blow it off and go on. There were still two holes today."

Merten was in with her 67 and on the driving range when Sheehan was staring at a four-foot putt that she needed for a par 4 to avoid a playoff.

"An official told me Patty made it," Merten said. "I thought she would. She's too good a player not to. I was kind of numb at that point. I didn't think I had a chance until she bogeyed 16."

Sheehan wanted no part of a playoff. Her record in playoffs "is not too good" -- 5-6, to be precise.

"I was very nervous," Sheehan said. "My hands were shaking good. I didn't know which shake would hit the putt."

Although Merten, 32, didn't overtake Sheehan, she was pleased with second place. She has two tour victories, but none since 1984.

"I'm happy to finish second in a major, tickled, in fact," Merten said. "I've never played this well in a major."

Patty Sheehan, $150,000 68-68-70-69--275 Lauri Merten, $93,093 73-70-66-67--276 Barb Bunkowsky, $67,933 68-70-69-70--277 Betsy King, $40,130 72-66-72-69--279 Michelle McGann, $40,130 73-68-68-70--279 Tammie Green, $40,130 71-69-69-70--279 Patti Rizzo, $40,130 72-69-67-71--279 Nancy Scranton, $23,651 74-68-72-66--280 Trish Johnson, $23,651 68-73-69-70--280 Cathy Johnston-Forbes, $23,651 68-68-70-74--280 Terry-Jo Myers, $16,277 71-69-73-68--281 Kris Tschetter, $16,277 73-72-67-69--281 Joan Pitcock, $16,277 68-74-70-69--281 Jan Stephenson, $16,277 69-69-73-70--281 Donna Andrews, $16,277 70-72-68-71--281 Cindy Rarick, $16,277 68-67-73-73--281 Jane Crafter, $11,444 72-73-70-67--282 Nancy Ramsbottom, $11,444 71-71-72-68--282 Jane Geddes, $11,444 76-68-68-70--282 Elaine Crosby, $11,444 71-71-70-70--282 Pamela Wright, $11,444 68-72-72-70--282 Beth Daniel, $11,444 74-67-70-71--282 Rosie Jones, $11,444 70-71-69-72--282 Jenny Lidback, $11,444 69-67-68-78--282 Kim Williams, $8,947 72-70-72-69--283 Mary Beth Zimmerman, $8,947 73-68-72-70--283 Nancy Lopez, $8,947 68-73-72-70--283 Liselotte Neumann, $8,947 72-68-73-70--283 Judy Dickinson, $8,947 71-70-69-73--283 Angie Ridgeway, $7,243 72-72-72-68--284 Chris Johnson, $7,243 74-69-73-68--284 Dottie Mochrie, $7,243 71-70-74-69--284 Alison Nicholas, $7,243 70-72-70-72--284 Barb Thomas, $7,243 72-69-71-72--284 Dale Eggeling, $7,243 72-71-68-73--284 Cindy Figg-Currier, $7,243 74-67-67-76--284 JoAnne Carner, $5,609 69-73-73-70--285 Brandie Burton, $5,609 74-70-70-71--285 Ayako Okamoto, $5,609 73-71-70-71--285 Shelley Hamlin, $5,609 73-66-75-71--285 Colleen Walker, $5,609 73-70-70-72--285 Tracy Kerdyk, $5,609 69-69-72-75--285 Jill Briles-Hinton, $4,720 72-70-72-72--286 Lori Garbacz, $4,720 72-71-69-74--286 Missie Berteotti, $4,015 74-71-72-70--287 Suzanne Strudwick, $4,015 73-71-73-70--287 Meg Mallon, $4,015 71-70-73-73--287 Laura Davies, $4,015 72-69-71-75--287 Kristi Albers, $4,015 71-69-70-77--287 Danielle Ammaccapane, $3,260 69-74-74-71--288 Kelly Robbins, $3,260 72-69-76-71--288 Maggie Will, $3,260 70-68-71-79--288 Sally Little, $2,731 74-70-72-73--289 Dana Lofland-Dormann, $2,731 73-68-74-74--289 Tina Tombs, $2,731 70-70-74-75--289 Stephanie Farwig, $2,731 72-68-72-77--289 Karen Noble, $2,203 74-70-73-73--290 Caroline Pierce, $2,203 72-71-71-76--290 Pearl Sinn, $2,203 70-72-71-77--290 Lisa Walters, $1,901 73-70-78-70--291 Caroline Keggi, $1,901 70-69-74-78--291 Hiromi Kobayashi, $1,667 68-74-75-75--292 Stefania Croce, $1,667 73-70-73-76--292 Nina Foust, $1,667 69-76-70-77--292 Robin Walton, $1,499 72-73-75-73--293 Evelyn Orley, $1,499 68-75-75-75--293 Juli Inkster, $1,499 70-73-74-76--293 Diane Daugherty, $1,398 73-72-75-77--297 Patty Jordan, $1,348 72-73-78-76--299 Dina Ammaccapane, $1,298 76-68-78-80--302

LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP

The winner . . . Patty Sheehan 68-68-70-69--275

. . . and followers Lauri Merten 73-70-66-67--276

Barb Bunkowsky 68-70-69-70--277

Betsy King 72-66-72-69--279

Michelle McGann 73-68-68-70--279

Tammie Green 71-69-69-70--279

Patti Rizzo 72-69-67-71--279

Nancy Scranton 74-68-72-66--280

Trish Johnson 68-73-69-70--280

Cathy Johnston-Forbes 68-68-70-74--280

Complete scores: 7C

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