BETHESDA -- Michelle McGann, bidding for the same recognition for her golf game she gets for her hats, had a learning experience in the final round of the Mazda LPGA Championship yesterday, with back-to-back eagles in her round of 70.
McGann, finished four trips over the Bethesda Country Club course at 5-under-par 279, tied for fourth, and collected $40,130 from the $1 million purse.
Her two nines were a study in contrast, as she ran off eight straight pars, then birdied the ninth. On the incoming nine, she followed two bogeys with eagles at the par-5 12th and 13th holes, but could not capitalize. She slipped back with bogeys at the 15th and 17th.
"Yes, that's the first time I've made successive eagles, and after that, I was trying to make more," said McGann, a five-year tour veteran at 23. "What happened? The scorecard can tell that."
Asked to assess the round, she said: "Not too bad. It's a top 10; I guess it's OK." It was her third top-five finish this season.
Of the two eagles, set up by a four-iron shot to 10 feet at the 445-yard 12th, and a 5-wood to 10 feet at the 501-yard 13th, playing companion Tammie Green said: "That was pretty impressive. She's so strong, she could dominate this game, and her maturity is right there."
In the final-round field of 70 players, it was just another shot, followed by another par-saving putt, but for Barb Thomas, it was another indication of how far her game has come in recent months.
The save at No. 18 gave her a round of 72, a total of par-284 and a check for $7,243. She has earned about $47,000 this season, the most in any of her 10 years on the tour.
"I'm definitely a better player now than before," she said. "I know I can come through under pressure. At 18, there was a bunker shot to 10 feet and making the putt. I would probably have two-putted that one last year . . . if I had got it out of the bunker."
The exhilaration, however, lasted only as long as it took her to realize she had to get on her way to Rochester, N.Y. That is the site of this week's LPGA tournament, and she was scheduled to be in a qualifying field this morning.
Thomas has played in six of these this year, was medalist five times, including a 66 prior to McDonald's, and went on to make the cut in all but one of the tournaments.
She is a non-exempt player, which means she gets into tournaments based on last year's money list.
For the championship, though, the entry qualification goes off the 1993 money list, so her tie-seventh money at the Lady Keystone Open in Hershey, Pa., enabled her to get into the field here.
Informal discussions about next year's tournament have started.
"The key players are the LPGA, [title sponsor] Mazda and Bethesda CC. After the tournament, we'll talk with all the parties, along with our dealers, and the charities," said David Parmenter, director of marketing for Mazda.