Rosales wins first title with 7-under at Chick-fil-A
Updated: Sunday May 2, 2004 10:03PM
STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. (AP) -- Jennifer Rosales couldn't stand to watch.
She paced behind the scoring tent -- sneaking in a cigarette, chatting on her cell phone, making small talk with her caddie, scribbling out a few autographs for fans lining the ropes.
"I was so nervous, I couldn't even sign my name. My hands were shaking," Rosales said. "I never felt like that before in my life."
Not to worry.
Rosales won for the first time on the LPGA Tour, shooting a 7-under-par 65 Sunday to overcome all the big names ahead of her at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.
The 25-year-old Filipino overcame Annika Sorenstam, the world's greatest player. And Grace Park, who won the first major of the year. And Aree Song, who hoped to become the tour's youngest winner.
"It's great to win when all the top players are playing," Rosales said after her one-stroke win at Eagle's Landing Country Club in suburban Atlanta.
She began the day four shots behind Song, who celebrated her 18th birthday Saturday with the third-round lead. But the talented teenager fell apart on the final day, soaring to a 78 that left her nine strokes behind the winner.
"If I keep putting myself in positions like this, hopefully it will happen soon," Song said. "I was a little tight at the start."
Rosales, playing four threesomes ahead of the final group, saved par at the par-5 final hole despite knocking her second shot into the temporary clubs seats lining the left side of the green.
She was allowed to drop next to the stands, winding up with a terrible lie in the thick rough. She blasted out to the green, missed a long putt, then tapped in for par and a 14-under 274.
That was good enough.
Rosie Jones, who lives in Atlanta, laid up 70 yards from the pin but knocked a sand wedge to the back fringe. The 13-time tour winner had already chipped in for one birdie, but this one curled a few inches wide of the cup to leave her one stroke behind.
There was more agony to come at 18.
Also trailing by a stroke, Becky Morgan of Wales stuck her third shot just 6 feet from the flag. But she pulled the birdie putt badly, costing her a chance to go for her first tour victory in a playoff.
"I was more nervous than I had been all week," Morgan conceded.
Park, who won the first major of the year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, birdied 18 to wind up in a four-way tie for second.
Jung Yeon Lee of South Korea was the other runner-up, her closing-round 65 barely noticed because she finished more than hour before the last group.
Sorenstam couldn't make any putts and settled for a 71, failing to win for only the second time in five tournaments worldwide this year. She was four shots behind Rosales.
"There were a lot of birdies to be made out there, but you've got to make them," Sorenstam said. "It was the same thing for four days. I was hitting the ball really well. I'm happy with the way I'm playing. It's just a matter of time."
Her frustration boiled over when she lipped out a short eagle putt at 13 to end any hopes of making a charge. Sorenstam flipped her putter in the air and caught it on the way down.
She might as well have thrown it away.
Rosales' putter worked just fine in a bogey-free round. Her confidence soared when she rolled in a 12-footer for birdie on the very first hole. She followed with a 20-footer at 3.
After making birdie on 14, Rosales noticed her name atop the leaderboard. She struggled to keep her emotions in check.
"I started taking deep breaths," Rosales said. "That helped me a lot."
But her adrenaline was clearly pumping at 18, when she unloaded a 3-wood from 215 yards. The ball might still be rolling if the club seats had not gotten in the way.
"I hit a home run there," Rosales said with a smile. "I'm so glad no one got hurt. Too much adrenaline. Thank God the grandstand was there."
She also was glad to avoid a playoff. Last year, Rosales lost to Rachel Teske in a four-way, sudden-death shootout at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic -- the Filipino's best career finish until Sunday.
Mi Hyun Kim got her score to 14 under with a birdie at No. 11, but bogeys at 15 and 17 ended the Korean's hopes. She wound alone in sixth with a 276.
Song came into the final round with a one-stroke lead. While the Korean teenager has contended at major championships, this was her first time going into Sunday with a lead.
It showed. After extending her streak without a bogey to 44 holes, Song fell apart on the back nine. She took double-bogeys at 13 and 17, shooting 41 after the turn to go from the lead to a tie for 23rd.
"My swing never really felt comfortable. It felt weird," Song said. "I felt like I was going to pull everything. It's tough when you feel like that."
Notes: Rosales earned $240,000 for win. "I'm going to shop till I drop," she announced. ... Kate Golden had the best round of the week, closing with a 64 that bumped her up to a tie for 10th. ... Song has one more chance to surpass Marlene Hagge's record of being the youngest winner -- next weekend's Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill. The Hall of Famer was 18 years, 14 days when she won the 1952 Sarasota Open. ... Another Hall of Famer, 65-year-old JoAnne Carner, finished last among the 90 golfers who made the cut with a 12-over 300.
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