Daniel, 46, becomes oldest winner in LPGA Tour history

Updated: July 14, 2003, 12:00 PM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Beth Daniel isn't quite ready to sit back and watch Michelle Wie and the wave of young stars take over the LPGA Tour.

Daniel became the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history Sunday, birdieing the final two holes to beat fellow Hall of Famer Juli Inkster by a stroke in the Canadian Women's Open.

''It's been a year where a lot of people have given up on me,'' Daniel said. ''I kept saying that I'll play this game as long as I still feel I can win out here. I proved it today.''

She closed with a 4-under 68 in rainy conditions to finish at 13-under 275. At 46 years, 8 months and 29 days, Daniel broke the age record of 46 years, 5 months and 11 days set by JoAnne Carner in the 1985 SAFECO Classic.

''I'm proud of that,'' Daniel said. ''I think that's pretty neat. Longevity says a lot. I'm proud of myself for having the longevity I've had.''

She won for the first time since 1995.

''You go through a spell that long and you kind of start wondering, No. 1 if you're ever going to win again, and No. 2 if maybe you re too old to be out here,'' she said. ''But I always had confidence in myself, I always felt like I was going to win again.''

The 33-time tour winner did it in dramatic fashion.

Daniel made a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to tie Inkster at 12 under. On the par-5 18th, Daniel laid up to 104 yards on her second shot and hit a wedge to 6 feet.

After Inkster left her 12-foot birdie putt short, Daniel made a right-to-left breaking putt to take the $195,000 winner's check.

''Coming down the last two holes it was kind of like match play,'' said the 43-year-old Inkster. ''She's been knocking on the door for a while and unfortunately she opened it up on me.''

Kim Saiki birdied four of her first five holes to move into a tie for the lead, but bogeyed the 11th and missed a 1-foot par putt on the 18th to fall into a tie with Grace Park for third place at 9 under. Park's 5-under 67 was the low round Sunday.

Daniel and Inkster started the day tied for the lead at 9 under and battled for 18 holes on the rain-soaked Point Grey Golf and Country Club course.

Daniel birdied the first and third holes to take a two-stroke lead, but missed makable birdie putts on the 10th and 11th holes to give Inkster a chance.

Inkster made up a stroke with a birdie on the par-5 10th, and took the lead with a two-stroke swing on No. 12. Inkster made a 2-foot birdie putt, while Daniel struggled to a bogey after hitting her tee shot into the thick rough on the right side.

''The only time I got a little derailed was the two-shot swing on 12,'' said Daniel. ''All of a sudden I didn't have the lead anymore. I just had to dig in deep and try to get it back.''

Inkster kept the lead through No. 17, and her 8-foot birdie putt on the 143-yard par-3 appeared to be headed in before swinging right at the last second and stopping on the edge.

''Seventeen was in the heart,'' Inkster said. ''I was getting it out of the hole.

Daniel made her short putt to move back into a tie, then laid up on the 468-yard 18th.

Inkster had a fairway wood in her hand and appeared ready to go for the green in two, but after waiting for a few minutes for the group ahead to putt out, decided to lay up as well.

''The rain started coming down harder and harder and harder and it's hard to get a good swing on a fairway wood in the rain off a tight lie,'' Inkster said. ''Beth laid up, so I knew she was in the same boat.

Inkster almost holed her short iron shot, but the ball stopped inches from the cup and spun back 12 feet. She left her birdie putt a half-foot short.

Notes
Dawn Coe-Jones, inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame on Monday, was the top Canadian at 1 over. She birdied the final two holes for a 71. ... Only 15 players finished under par.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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