There were a number of reasons why Jane Geddes should have won the GNA/Glendale Federal Classic at Oakmont:
--Everyone kept saying that the Oakmont Country Club course was like an Open course, and Geddes is the U.S. Women's Open champion.
--When Geddes won her first tournament in 1986, she came right back and won the next one. She won last week in Hawaii.
--Geddes has a perfect record in playoffs. She defeated Sally Little to win the U.S. Open and last week defeated Cathy Gerring to win the Women's Kemper Open.
Sunday, on an Open-like course, going for her second win in a row, in a playoff, she birdied the first extra hole to beat Robin Walton, who was trying to win her first LPGA tournament.
Walton, who was tied for the lead after 54 holes, parred the 427-yard par 5 18th hole, which was used to start the playoff.
Earlier, Geddes equaled the course record with a five-under-par 67 to come from five shots back to catch the steady Walton, who shot her second straight 72.
Geddes and Walton tied at two-under-par 286.
Colleen Walker, who started the final round tied with Walton, birdied the final two holes for a 74--288 and third place. Defending champion Chris Johnson, with a 71, was fourth at 289.
In retrospect, Oakmont was the real winner.
The venerable old Glendale course, tucked away in a nook of the Verdugo hills, permitted only two of the finest women's professional golfers in the world--Geddes and Walton--to better par for 72 holes.
Only 5 of 79 players on the final day could better par 72 on the tree-lined 6,256-yard course.
Oakmont, which was built in 1929 and revamped in 1967 when the L.A. County Flood Control and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a flood control channel through it, has been the toughest course on the LPGA tour for two years--and it is likely to be again this year.
Geddes, who didn't play golf until she was 17, collected $37,500 to push her earnings in five 1987 tournaments to $114,675. Walton, who had never finished higher than third in nine years on the tour, won $23,125.
On the playoff hole, Walton surprisingly outdrove the long-hitting Geddes.
Although both were in range of the green, neither made it. Geddes pushed her 3-wood shot to the right, into deep rough, just off the green. Walton's wood shot landed in a bunker, only the top of the ball visible in the deep sand just below the lip of the hazard.
Walton responded with a remarkable explosion. The ball stopped about 20 feet to the right of the cup. Geddes chipped boldly to the slick green, her ball coming to rest five feet beneath the hole.
Walton putted first and when her ball slid past the cup, Geddes stroked her putt into the the cup for a birdie and her fourth LPGA win.
"I didn't expect it to end (on the first extra hole), especially after Robin hit such a great shot out of the trap," Geddes said. "Her ball was really buried.
"It was one of those days where everything went right for me, except for my double bogey on the 15th hole. Other than that one mistake, I played fantastic golf. When I got things going, I felt invincible."
Geddes had seven birdies in her first 12 holes to not only catch the front-running Walton, but to take a four-shot lead.
On the 15th hole, a 340-yard par 4, Geddes pulled her tee shot behind a huge pine tree.
"I had a clear shot to the right side of the green," Geddes said. "But the ball was in pretty thick rough and the grass caught my 8-iron and caused me to hit it left."
The ball smacked into the pine and bounded left, beneath a huge oak tree. Geddes tried to punch a running shot with a 3-iron, but the ball came out too fast and skidded across the green and down an embankment. After chipping up and taking two putts, Geddes had her fourth double bogey in four days and was suddenly back in a tie with Walton, who had just birdied the 11th and 12th holes.
"I had seen the leader board for the first time after the 14th hole and found I was four shots ahead," Geddes said. "I think it made me relax and lose a little concentration. You can't do that on this course."
Walton was disappointed at the outcome, but not dejected.
"I was in position all weekend to win the tournament, but she took it away from me," Walton said. "She made an incredible up-and-down to win the playoff hole. Before she hit her chip, I thought we were going on to the next hole. After she hit it that close, I knew it was over after I missed my putt."
Geddes was already in the clubhouse after regulation play when Walton came to the short par-5 eighteenth hole, needing a birdie to win.
"I thought I could win it right there after I hit my second shot into perfect position, but I hit my wedge heavy and the ball didn't roll," said the University of Washington graduate.
It stopped about 25 feet short and after Walton tapped in her second putt, the two women headed back to the 18th tee and the playoff.
"I felt that starting on that hole gave me a bit of the upper hand in the playoff," Geddes said. "I knew the 18th was a good hole for me, because I could get home in two.