Scotland's Janice Moodie captured her first career LPGA Tour victory Sunday with a two-stroke triumph at the 1.1 million-dollar ShopRite Classic.
Moodie made back-to-back birdies to close the front nine at the Sea view Marriott Resort Bay Course, then pared the final nine holes to win by two shots over Pat Hurst and South Korea's Grace Park.
"Fantastic," Moodie said of her breakthrough victory. "I finally got my Rolex. I wasn't going to buy one. I finally had it given to me."
The 27-year-old native of Glasgow shot a two-under-par 69 for a three-round total of 10-under 203. Her best previous finish since turning pro in 1998 was second at last year's Australian Ladies Masters.
Moodie has played all 18 events on tour this year and the 165,000-dollar first prize jumped her into the top 10 on the money list with 370,323 dollars.
"I was more nervous on the front. The back nine, I was just riding with it," Moodie said. "I didn't look at any leader boards at all."
"I had a couple of really good up-and-downs," she added. "I played really steady on the back nine. I had a good one on 11. I putted it 10 feet past the whole and was able to return it. I didn't miss within four feet, which I think was key."
Playing well before the final group, Hurst fired a seven-under 64 to briefly move into a tie for the lead. But Moodie, who started the day with a two-shot lead, birdied the eighth and ninth holes to pull away from the field.
Moodie had bogeyed the second, but knew from the early morning scores that she was likely to have a chance to make it up.
"I knew I had 16 more holes," Moodie said. "I looked at the morning rounds. Carin Koch went low, Pat Hurst had a great day. So I knew the birdies were out there. I knew I was swinging it well. I just had to stay with it."
Moodie said she hoped the victory would earn her a spot on the Solheim Cup team.
"Hopefully, that's my ticket in," she said. "I'm going back over to play in the British and then the Compaq Open in Sweden. So that's three this year. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.
Park shot a four-under 67 to join Hurst in second place on eight-under 205. One week after capturing the LPGA Championship, “Hall of Famer” Juli Inkster managed only a 70, but that gained a share of fourth place at 206 with Vickie Odegard and first-round co-leader Michelle Estill.
The top two players on the money list -- Australia's Karrie Webb and Sweden's Annika Sorenstam -- skipped this tournament – (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)