Holds off Yang by two

Originally Published: July 18, 2004
Associated Press

VIENNA, Ohio -- With a clap of thunder, Moira Dunn won her first LPGA tournament on her 245th try.

Dunn, putting out moments after lightning flashed in the background, birdied the 16th and 17th holes to win the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic on Sunday.

"It's been a long time," she said, fighting back tears. "I always believed it would come. That's what got me here."

It was Dunn's first victory in a decade on tour. The Utica, N.Y., native twice finished tied for second in 2001.

As she walked onto the final green, someone in the gallery yelled, "I love New York!"

Two of her friends on tour, A.J. Eathorne and Amy Fruhwirth, then doused her with beer after she tapped in a short putt for par.

"I've been playing really well. I'm happy with my swing and my ball striking," Dunn said. "The funniest thing is I bought a putter on Thursday night and put it in play on Friday. We just went to a golf shop and we were goofing around and I couldn't leave without buying something."

She collected $150,000 for the victory, shooting a final-round 65 to finish at 12-under 204 -- two strokes ahead of Young-A Yang -- at muddy Squaw Creek Country Club.

"A few people played well early," Dunn said. "I was just trying to hang around and see what happened. The last few holes are hard."

The final round was suspended for 2 hours, 40 minutes because of lightning and rain. The second round of the 54-hole tournament was also held up for more than two hours because of heavy rains and lightning.

Armed with her new Bettinardi Big Ben putter, Dunn needed fewer putts each round. She began with 31, then had 27 and 26 in the final two rounds.

Dunn and Yang, playing in the same threesome, came to the par-4 16th hole tied for the lead at 10-under. After a solid drive, Dunn hit a 7-iron in from 150 yards to 18 feet above the hole. She then rolled the putt into the side of the cup to grab the lead.

"To be honest, I didn't hit it [the approach] all that well -- it was a little thin -- but it got to the back of the green," Dunn said.

She solidified her advantage with a birdie on the next hole, this time hitting a 6-iron from 161 yards into 5 feet and draining the putt.

Yang, a second-year pro also seeking her first win, shot a closing 68 to finish at 206. Another shot back was Leta Lindley -- playing with a picture of her infant son next to her scorecard -- who closed with a bogey-free 66. Laura Diaz was at 208 after a 69, followed by Michelle Estill who was another shot back after a 71.

"Before the day started I said if I got it to double-figures [under par] I'd be very happy," Yang said. "I did that. Moira just played better than I did."

Dunn began the day a shot behind co-leaders Yang and Estill. She pulled even with a birdie on the first hole and was tied for the lead with Yang when play was suspended with Yang and Dunn on the 14th hole.

Dunn and Yang, like most of the players, sat around the locker room and watched the men's British Open, talked and snacked. Sometimes a suspension of play can kill a good round, but Dunn said she tried to relax and focus on the remaining holes.

Dunn and Yang traded birdies, with Yang taking the lead at No. 14 and Dunn pulling even on the par-3 15th.

"I knew I was tied with Moira because I was playing in the same group," Yang said. "I'd make a birdie, and then she would make a birdie. After that, she just made two more birdies."

The top 17 money-winners on the LPGA Tour skipped the event, many because they are preparing for the rich Evian Masters in Paris next week and then staying in Europe for the year's final major, the Women's British Open.

Who was or was not in the field didn't matter to Dunn -- just the victory.

"I knew it would come," she said before breaking out in tears.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press