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Andrews Makes Splash With First Major Title

March 28, 1994|DAN HAFNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

RANCHO MIRAGE — Holding a one-shot lead and heading for her favorite hole, Laura Davies chose to play it safe. That probably cost her the Nabisco Dinah Shore Sunday.

A two-stroke switch on the 72nd hole gave Donna Andrews the $105,000 winner's prize, her first major and her second victory of the season.

Andrews officially won it when she sank a five-foot birdie putt on the par-five 18th to finish with a two-under 70 and a 276 total. Davies, who took the lead in the tightly contested duel with a par on the 17th, also had a 70 but lost by a shot with a 277.

When the fans yelled for Andrews to jump into the lake in front of the 18th, she obliged.

"Anything for the fans," she said, laughing. "I wish Dinah had been with me, but I know she was here in spirit."

Perhaps a dip would have cooled off Davies. The Briton was a gracious loser, although inside she was obviously seething. She answered all questions politely, explained her round and praised the winner. But, after leaving the interview area, she stormed out, threw her visor in a trash bin and hurried away.

Although Davies did not acknowledge making a mistake on the 526-yard 18th, the hole she reached in two on Saturday, she had to be wondering.

Her power gives her a decided edge over the other LPGA players. Davies finished 12 under for the tournament, nine under on the four par-five holes. In the first three par-fives Sunday, she went for the green each time and each time got a birdie.

"But the wind was against me today," Davies said, "and I was sure I couldn't reach (on the 18th)."

So she used a four-iron off the tee, but pushed the shot into the light rough on the right. On her next shot, she stayed in the rough with a two-iron. On her third shot she used an eight-iron. She hit it fat and it came to rest far left, 60 feet from the cup and calling for an uphill, then downhill putt. If she hit it too hard, it would have gone off the green. She left it eight feet short, then missed her par.

Andrews, thinking she needed a birdie to make a playoff, suddenly found herself with victory in her grasp. Without hesitation, she knocked her five-foot birdie putt into the center of the cup.

"It's awesome," she said as she wrung out her wet clothes and came barefoot to the interview room. "I don't think it will sink in for quite a while.

"After I made the bogey on 17 to fall behind, I forced myself to relax. I felt sure she wouldn't go for the green in two, so I knew I had a chance to tie with a birdie. I didn't dream I had a chance to win until I saw where her ball was on the third shot. I knew that was three-putt range."

Throughout the day, playing with Davies and Michelle McGann, Andrews had simply played her game while the two long-hitters outdrove her by big yardage. On 18, she hit a three-wood off the tee and another three-wood to a position 135 yards from the cup. She then hit a knockdown six-iron to within six feet.

"As I looked at the putt, I remembered I sank a similar putt for a par on the last hole yesterday," Andrews said. "I told my husband (her caddie) I wouldn't leave it short. I learned my lesson as a rookie."

Several players made a run at the two leaders, but from the time Andrews sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 377-yard par-four 12th, it was like match play. A blunder by Andrews, when she picked a five-iron out of the bag instead of a six on 14, almost cost her. But Andrews, who putted well throughout, saved par with another 20-footer. Then, a fat five-iron shot on 17 put her behind but did not beat her.

"I would have felt terrible if that blunder on 14 had cost me," she said. "I have to take the blame myself. I pulled it out of the bag."

Tammie Green, who started the day five shots back, made a run at the leaders, but after getting within two shots with eight holes left, never made a move. She finished with a four-under 68 and third place with 279. Jan Stephenson, who played well on her comeback trail, barely missed a birdie putt that would have tied her for third.

Brandie Burton, the budding young star from Rialto, threatened early to run away with the event. After posting a 65, the best round of the tournament, on Saturday, Burton came back to birdie four of the first five holes on the final round.

With relatives and friends urging her on, she twice was within a shot of the lead. She finished with seven birdies, four bogeys, a double bogey and a 71.

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