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GOLF / LPGA AT SAN DIEGO : Monaghan Holds On With a 71


SAN DIEGO — It wasn't all that difficult to catch Kris Monaghan in the Kyocera Inamori Classic, it was simply impossible to beat her.

Monaghan shot a steady one-under-par 71 Sunday at Stardust Country Club to beat back all challengers and win her second LPGA tournament in her ninth year on the tour. Her 13-under-par 275 was one shot ahead of Juli Inkster, who missed birdie putts on each of the last three holes.

It was a disappointing final round for Patty Sheehan, who could have moved into a tie for player of the year honors with a victory, and taken a firm grip on the money title.

Sheehan twice caught Monaghan, her playing partner, on the front side, but just as she has done all week, Monaghan refused to give up the top spot. The first two days she was tied for the lead, then forged into the lead Saturday by herself.

"I guess the omens were right," said Monaghan, whose other victory was in this tournament, when it was at StoneRidge Country Club in 1990. "But that second tournament was much harder than the first one. What makes it extra special is that I was seriously considering quitting the tour a year ago. I had been going nowhere.

"I laid off most of last year, and when I decided to continue my career, it was with more maturity and with patience. It's nice to get a win in the last event of the season, but I've been playing like this all summer. I just couldn't win."

Monaghan, who began with a bogey, had four birdies, but her biggest shot of the day was for par on the 412-yard eighth hole.

After making three birdies in four holes, Monaghan had failed to get up and down out of a deep trap on the seventh hole for a bogey.

She pulled her drive into the rough on eight and her four-iron second shot landed in the trap left of the green. A poor bunker shot left her about 20 feet from the pin and faced with a second bogey in a row. She sank the long putt, and when Sheehan missed a three-footer, Monaghan was on her way.

"I don't know what it might have done emotionally to me if I had had two bogeys in a row at that stage," she said. "That putt was the big shot for me.

"I played all day with confidence and felt comfortable. I tried not to pay attention to what Patty was doing, but I knew she made some big putts early. I didn't look at the scoreboard until about the 15th when I saw that Juli, playing in front of me, was only a shot behind. I kept listening for the roar of the crowd and didn't hear it, though, I heard she lipped out on 18. When I hit the ball within 10 feet of the pin on the last hole, I finally knew it was my tournament."

Although Inkster, a 10-year star on the tour, didn't win a tournament this year, the Los Altos golfer seemed quite pleased with her performance.

"My game is back," Inkster said. "I took a good vacation and spent some time with my family. I am hitting the ball extremely well, the putts just aren't dropping. I had numerous birdie chances on the back nine. On 18, I hit an 18-footer exactly where I wanted to. It should have gone in, but it didn't break. I kind of wish the season wasn't ending. I'm expecting another baby in March, so I will stop playing the first of the year. But I'll find plenty of chances to play and I feel good about my game."

Although she was wild at the start and had to save pars with long putts early in the day, Sheehan seemed in perfect position to win until she missed the short putt on eight. Then, on nine, the only water hole, she hit her second shot into the water and fell two shots out of the lead. She was never closer than one again.

Sheehan shot a 73 for a 278 total to lose by three. But she earned $28,881 and leads Betsy King in the money race by $45,000.

The $63,750 first prize sent Monaghan over $200,000 for the first time.

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