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SHEEHAN FIRES LAST-ROUND 67 TO TRIP ALCOTT, RETAIN CROWN

Patty Sheehan got hot -- literally and figuratively -- and won a showdown of potential LPGA Hall of Famers Sunday.

Sheehan, trailing Amy Alcott by three strokes with nine holes to play, made six birdies on the back nine and successfully defended her title in the $400,000 Rochester International at Locust Hill Country Club.

Sheehan shot a final-round 67 to demolish the tournament record by five strokes, finishing at 17-under-par 271.

Alcott, who entered the final round two strokes ahead of Sheehan, shot 73 and finished at 13-under 275.

The 33-year-old Sheehan said the impetus for her back-nine charge was a bogey on the 149-yard ninth hole.

She was bothered by a fan shooting a camera just as she was about to hit her tee shot. Sheehan stepped away, then mishit her shot into the bunker in front of the green and made bogey.

"I was so angry at myself for letting somebody interrupt my concentration," Sheehan said. "I think I bore down a little more after that. When I get angry at myself, I seem to play a little better."

Sheehan got a break when Alcott missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the ninth.

Then on the par-4 10th, Sheehan made an 8-foot birdie putt and Alcott bogeyed, cutting the lead to one.

Sheehan still was seething as she left the 10th green, and she took her frustration out on the course. She birdied the par-5 11th (making a 15-foot putt), the par-4 13th (a 25-footer), the par-3 15th (an 18-incher), the par-4 16th (a 5-footer) and the par-5 17th (a tap-in).

"Patty was a buzzsaw out there on the back nine," said Alcott.

While the ninth hole was pivotal from an emotional standpoint, the 129-yard 15th was the decisive hole of the tournament.

Trailing Sheehan by one, Alcott shanked a 9-iron off the tee, sending it a pitiful 70 yards to the right. She did well to make bogey, but with Sheehan making birdie on the hole, it was a two-stroke swing and a three-stroke Sheehan lead.

"I just hit a lousy shot," Alcott said. "You just have to hold your head up at that point and relate to every amateur in the world."

Sheehan is one of the tour's long drivers and was accurate with her approaches, hitting 13 greens in regulation. Alcott hit only eight in regulation.

The victory was the third in what has the makings of a giant season for Sheehan. She entered the year with her finances in disarray because her $900,000 home was wrecked in last fall's San Francisco earthquake and she did not have earthquake insurance.

But after taking the $60,000 first-place check, Sheehan now stands No. 1 on this year's money list with earnings of $357,474.

"The earthquake probably was the best thing that ever happened to me," she said. "It made me a lot more appreciative of life and of being on the tour."

Sheehan has 23 career victories, seven shy of the total required for entry into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

"I think I certainly have the potential to get into the Hall of Fame," she said. "For the last 10 years, I've played like a Hall of Famer. I really think I'm going to get there."

After accepting her winner's check in a ceremony on the 18th green, Sheehan showered about 30 tournament sponsors with a shaken bottle of champagne.

The 34-year-old Alcott, almost assured of Hall of Fame entrance since she needs only two more victories, earned $37,000 for second, her highest finish of the season.

"My short game was just phenomenal this week," Alcott said. "I made some great saves for par today. But I didn't hit it as close today. It just wasn't meant to be."

Nancy Lopez, a three-time Rochester champion, birdied the last three holes to shoot 68 and finish third at 276.

Veteran Kathy Postlewait, who entered the final round two strokes off the lead, was victimized by poor putting and shot 77. She three-putted four holes for bogey on the front nine. Her 281 total placed her fifth, behind Tammie Green, who finished at 69-280.

Eden native Patty Jordan shot 71 to finish at 292 and earned $1,760.

The previous tournament record of 12-under par was set in 1982 by Sandra Haynie.

The tour moves to Kitchener, Ont., next week for one of the LPGA's four major championships, the du Maurier Classic.

LEADER BOARD
(6,162-yard, par 72 288)
Patty Sheehan 72-64-68-67--271
Amy Alcott 69-65-68-73--275
Nancy Lopez 68-70-70-68--276
Tammie Green 76-67-68-69--280
Kathy Postlewait 68-68-68-77--281
Jane Geddes 72-72-67-71--282
Missie McGeorge 73-66-71-73--283

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