Nabisco Dinah Shore
Nabisco Dinah Shore
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Pepper shatters tournament record in runaway victory

It took the murky lake around the 18th green to finally cool off Dottie Pepper.

After turning the Nabisco Dinah Shore into a record-setting runaway today, Pepper plunged into the dark water around the finishing hole at Mission Hills Country Club.

"It was a lot colder than I thought it was going to be," Pepper, her hair still dripping, said. "I thought that was warm water."

Pepper was hot during the tournament, with her closing 6-under-par 66 putting her at 19-under to shatter the Dinah Shore record and also put her into the books at most strokes under par in an LPGA major championship.

Her 269 total was good for a six-shot victory over Meg Mallon, and it was another five strokes back to third-place finisher Karrie Webb.

"I'm still amazed at how well it went. I just tried to stay out of my own way," said Pepper, whose only other major title also was in the Dinah Shore, in 1992, and who hadn't won an event of any kind in more than two years.

Mallon, who led the first two days, began the final round three shots back of Pepper, with no other player within six shots of the lead. Mallon shot a 69, but that wasn't nearly enough.

"I thought I was playing really well and I lost by six shots," Mallon said. "On a major championship course, that (Pepper's total) is awesome.

"We're great friends. I can't be disappointed. Dottie just played excellent golf."

Pepper's score was four strokes better than Amy Alcott's total for the 1991 Dinah Shore, when Pepper finished a distant eight shots back in second. The next year, Pepper beat Juli Inkster in a playoff for the title.

"When Amy shot 15-under, I thought that was so far out of reach," Pepper said.

Her 19-under bettered the previous mark for an LPGA major, Brandie Burton's 18-under in last year's duMaurier Classic.

Pepper did a little jig following her short par putt on the final hole, then after signing her scorecard, headed into the algae-green lake.

Pepper bogeyed No. 13 to go to 16-under and allow Mallon within two shots, but Pepper opened the lead from there.

She birdied No. 14 by sinking a 45-foot birdie putt while Mallon bogeyed, then eagled No. 16 by hitting a 7-iron 144 yards and into the cup on the par-4, 390-yard hole, while Mallon bogeyed again.

By then, Pepper was 19-under, seven shots in front.

This year's win was very different from Pepper's seven years ago; that time, it took a playoff, and she stayed dry because jumping into the lake wasn't yet a Dinah Shore tradition.

Webb, who came into the tournament with three victories in her last four starts, shot her way into third place with a closing 66, but again went away without a win in a major.

The round was Webb's only one in the 60s in the tournament, and she finished at 8-under.

Kelly Robbins finished fourth with a 72 that left her 7-under. Charlotta Sorenstam was one more shot back and Inkster another stroke behind at 5-under.

Defending champion Pat Hurst, playing despite the fact she's six months pregnant, wound up at 3-over.