The landscape of women's golf seems almost too small to contain the various Amy Alcotts. Sometimes she's Amy Ali—the sassy but engaging self-promoter. Other times she's the fairway survivalist who thrives when conditions are toughest—Amy Adversity. But last week at the Nabisco Dinah Shore in Rancho Mirage. Calif., she was Amy All-Conquering. Playing with relentless precision, Alcott shot a tournament-record 14-under-par 274 to win by two shots over Colleen Walker.
Seconds after Alcott tapped in her final putt, she and caddie Bill Kurre jumped into the water surrounding the 18th green, a la Jerry Pate at the 1982 TPC. "Are you a Pisces or aren't you?" Kurre had challenged Alcott, who is indeed a Pisces—she was born on Feb. 22, 32 years ago—and who answered by taking the plunge. "I think sometimes people think that I have too much class to do something like that," the soaking champion said a bit later. Obviously, people are wrong.
The Shore was Alcott's 27th win, but her first since August 1986, the longest drought in her 14-year career. The $80,000 first prize made her the third woman—the others are Pat Bradley and JoAnne Carner—to surpass $2 million in earnings. It was her second Shore title and her fourth major, making it difficult to disagree with her immodest assessment of herself as "one of the greatest women golfers who ever lived."
The victory was especially welcome after a disappointing 1987 campaign in which Alcott finished a career-low 17th on the money list and had only six top-10 finishes. But the week before the Shore she had led Phoenix after two rounds before finishing fourth, and she came to Rancho Mirage full of confidence and breathing fire. "I have the same feeling I had when I won the U.S. Open in 1980," she said.
Mission Hills is noted for its ideal weather, but on Thursday, when Santa Ana winds blustered at 35 mph, no one was very happy. Only eight of 110 players broke par, the lowest score a 68 by that noted reincarnationist and aspiring astronaut, Muffin Spencer-Devlin.
"I was lying in bed this morning, listening to the wind in the trees." Spencer-Devlin said while addressing the press in a kneeling position to ease a disc problem. "I was imagining being the wind, being on the wind, being in the wind. I do rather like the wind."
Unfortunately Spencer-Devlin was also gone with the wind by Friday, shooting a 76, which sent her tumbling toward a 12th-place finish. Alcott, who had a 71 the first day, moved into the lead with a 66 in spite of a double bogey. Afterward, she could hardly contain herself. "I love walking up the 18th fairway knowing all those people in the gallery appreciate what an artist I am with a golf club." she said. "I love knowing I am one of the best."
On Saturday, Alcott again played from the heart. She posted another 66, giving her the best back-to-back rounds ever seen at the Dinah Shore. "You'll have to excuse me." she said. "When I get like this. I'm not well."
Alcott started the final round with a four-stroke lead over Walker, an improving 31-year-old in her seventh LPGA season. Walker can handle pressure—she has had five top-10 finishes already this year—and when she birdied the par-5 11th hole, she was only one shot back. But Alcott regained control at the 14TH, where she hit a crisp six-iron to seven feet and made the putt for a birdie. She parred the last four holes for a victory that justified the brass she had displayed throughout the tournament and that earned her a dip in the water.
"It's hard when it gets to the point where I'm hitting it so good that it gets boring," she had said at one point. "When I play like this, I want to go where I like it best. Into the white light."