Naples LPGA Memorial
Naples LPGA Memorial
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Mallon shoots 67 to win by 1

NAPLES, Fla. Meg Mallon went into today's final round of the Naples LPGA Memorial not wanting to know what score she would need to win. It turned out her 67 was just fine.

With a leaderboard filled with names like Annika Sorenstam, Kelly Robbins, Helen Alfredsson and Hollis Stacy, Mallon birdied three of the final five holes to win the inaugural event at 16-under par.

Alfredsson and Robbins also had strong fourth rounds to finish in a tie for second, at 15-under at The Club at Pelican Strand.

After Mallon made a 9-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to get to 16-under, Alfredsson and Robbins each had a chance to force a playoff. But Alfredsson's 60-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole missed left of the hole and Robbins's long fringe putt for birdie came up short.

"I knew I had to make some birdies," said Mallon, 35, who earned $112,500 with the 10th victory of her career. But, she noted, "there weren't any (scoreboards) out there -- which was interesting -- because usually I try to put blinders on."

With four rounds in the 60s (69-67-69-67), it wasn't exactly blind luck that propelled Mallon to victory. But she did have some help.

Three holes later, an errant approach shot hit a spectator and bounced back pin high left of the hole.

"She got a ball and a hug," Mallon said of the spectator. "I'm always superstitious. I'm Irish and that goes with the territory. But I played well."

Just well enough as windy conditions over the weekend turned the event into a "Who's Who" of women's golf. At one point during today's final round, there were 10 players within three shots of the lead including Sorenstam, Stacy, Laura Davies, Liselotte Neumann, Julie Inkster and Karrie Webb.

Webb, who either shared or held the lead through the first three rounds, double bogeyed the third hole to fall out of contention. Inkster, who also had a share of the lead heading into the final round, didn't challenge either with a final-round 73.

That allowed Robbins, who shot a 33 on the front nine, to take the lead and make a run at her second consecutive victory.

Unfortunately for Robbins, she failed to get up-and-down on the 13th hole and made bogey. Mallon birdied the next two holes to pass her and Alfredsson made it a three-player race with a 4-foot birdie putt on the 15th.

"I had no idea how we were standing," Alfredsson said. "But I knew everyone had to be close. It was a race down the stretch."

DIVOTS: Although she didn't win today, all seven of Robbins's rounds this season have been under par. ... Former U.S. Women's Amateur champion Kelli Kuehne was 8-under-par on the weekend for her best finish on the LPGA Tour with a tie for 15th place. Her previous best was a tie for 20th at the First Union Betsy King Classic in her rookie season last year.