Inkster Seizes Second Consecutive LPGA Championship

Published June 26th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Juli Inkster parred the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to defeat Italy's Stefania Croce and capture her second consecutive LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Delaware Sunday. 

One day after her 40th birthday, the American captured her sixth career LPGA major and 24th tour title overall. She joined Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan and Betsy King with the most majors of any active LPGA player. 

"Forty has been a lot easier than 30," Inkster told the AP, referring to a time when she was struggling to balance motherhood and a career on the LPGA Tour. "But 40, I feel pretty good."  

Inkster is only the third player in LPGA history to win this tournament in back to back victories, joining Sheehan, the 1983 and 1984 winner, and Mickey Wright, who won in 1960 and 1961, as the only women to ever defend the LPGA Championship. 

"It was great," Inkster said. "I struggled coming in, but I hit the shots when I had to. I'm very proud of myself, hanging in there. I'm very excited to win." 

Croce fired a three-under par 68 to finish at three-under 281 for the tournament, then waited two hours before Inkster collapsed coming down the stretch, bogeying 13 and taking a double bogey at 14. 

Her father Angelo flew here from Italy on Monday to help his 30-year-old daughter with her swing. The extra work paid off. 

"I was almost crying at the way I was playing," Croce said. "I called my dad and he came over. It's all because of my father." 

Australia's Jane Crafter, Britain's Laura Davies and American Heather Bowie were on 283, one stroke ahead of Japan's Akiko Fukushima and Aussie stars Jan Stephenson and Karrie Webb, the LPGA money leader - (Several Sources) 

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