Tue, Jul 06, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Mallon clinches two-shot win at US Women's Open

FLAWLESS Meg Mallon started from three shots behind and finished ten strokes under par, two ahead of the second-place finisher, Annika Sorenstam of Sweden

REUTERS , SOUTH HADLEY, MASSACHUSETTS

Meg Mallon of the US hugs the championship trophy after winning the 59th US Women's Open Championship at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Massachusetts, on Sunday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

American Meg Mallon celebrated Independence Day in style, coming from three behind at the start of the day to clinch her second US Women's Open crown by two shots at the Orchards Golf Club on Sunday.

The 41-year-old, who was born in Massachusetts and first won the title in 1991, fired a flawless six-under-par 65 to finish at 10-under 274 and claim the US$560,000 first prize ahead of second-placed Annika Sorenstam.

Sweden's Sorenstam, the world number one, returned a 67 with American Kelly Robbins a further two strokes back in third at six-under 278.

Sorenstam, champion in 1995 and 1996, piled on the pressure with birdies at the last two holes but narrowly missed out on the trophy for a third year in a row. She was second in 2002 and was edged out of a three-way playoff by one shot 12 months ago.

Robbins, who was involved in last year's playoff won by Hilary Lunke, carded a final-round 69.

Mallon had birdies at the third and fourth, and four more in six holes from the ninth.

But perhaps as important was a par save at the 15th where she holed from 35-feet from the edge of the green.

"When things like that happen you just know it's your day," Mallon told reporters.

Filipino Jennifer Rosales led after three rounds but slipped back into fourth place at three under after completing a 75.

Teenage prodigy Michelle Wie, 14, returned a 73 for a share of 13th place at one-over 285 with 17-year-old fellow American Paula Creamer and Patricia Meunier-Lebouc of France.

Wie and Creamer were the highest-placed amateurs and each gained one of the 20 automatic exemptions for next year.

For the Florida-based Mallon, who was cheered every step of the way by a record 26,000 final-day crowd, it was a dream come true.

"I'm very excited," she said after collecting her fourth major victory. Mallon also won the 1991 LPGA Championship and 2000 du Maurier Classic.

"I didn't really know that I could put 18 holes together like that. This one is more special than the first. In 1991, I won my first LPGA event, then I won the LPGA Championship and three weeks later I had the US Open. It was all so much so soon," she said.

"But since then I have twice finished second. I kick-started Annika's career when I threw away a five-shot lead and gave her the title in 1995 and then I three-putted four times on the back nine in the final round and finished runner-up to Karrie Webb in 2000," she said. "But this is my favorite event. It is such a tough mental challenge but this week just felt right. I love New England and the response I got from the crowd was amazing."

Sorenstam said: "I'm disappointed but I'll get over it. To shoot six under on Sunday at the US Open, it doesn't get much better than that."

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