With eagle, Walker swoops down and scoops up Lady Keystone title

June 17, 1991|By Jay Searcy | Jay Searcy,Philadelphia Inquirer

HERSHERY, PA. — HERSHEY, Pa. -- When Kris Tschetter holed a delicate, 18-foot, downhill putt on the 18th green yesterday, the gallery cheered in delight because that last stroke gave her a closing-round, 4-under-par 68 and a tie for the lead in the $400,000 Lady Keystone Open golf tournament.

But before she could even think about a possible playoff, before she could get off the green, really, another roar was heard from the distance, this one for Colleen Walker on No. 16. And that was the roar that settled the three-day, 54-hole tournament at the Hershey Country Club West Course.

Walker had dropped an eight-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th, and that was the beginning of the end of a seesaw battle, which produced five different leaders before the day had ended.

Walker, 34, who has been kicking around the LPGA Tour for 10 years, went on to birdie No. 17 and close the door with a par on the 18th. That gave her a 5-under-par 67 and a 207 total -- 9-under-par for the tournament and two shots ahead of Tschetter and Beth Daniel, who shared second.

The $60,000 first prize represented the fourth LPGA Tour victory for Walker, whose pro career started in 1982. She dedicated the tournament to her 23-year-old stepson, Warga Bakich, who just returned from the Persian Gulf and was here on leave to see her play.

Walker started the day at 4-under, three strokes behind the leaders, Jody Anschutz and Barb Mucha. Walker birdied the first hole and was never more than two strokes back the rest of the day.

HTC Anschutz, who had rounds of 68 and 69 to get to the front of the 73-woman final-day field, never got started yesterday and finished with a 74--211, in a four-way tie for sixth. Mucha finished at 68-69-73--210, sharing fourth with Barb Bunkowsky.

Nancy Lopez, expecting her third child in November, made a mild charge and was just two strokes back at one point, but finished four down with a 68--211. She could never overcome her opening-round 75.

Saturday's Cinderella, Mitzi Edge, the Georgian who scored a string of seven straight birdies -- nine in 11 holes -- couldn't get her game in gear yesterday. After Saturday's 65, she started one shot back, but bogeyed the first hole and skied to a 5-over-par 77 to finish at 215.

And Sandra Palmer, 50, the first-day co-leader with Janet Anderson, began the final 18 holes two shots back, but bogeyed three of the first four holes and never got back on the leaderboard.

The course played much harder than it did Saturday, when 47 players played par or better. With the temperature soaring to 95 in near-drought conditions, fairways and greens were especially hard, and putts were slipping and sliding.

"You had to hit the front of the greens to keep the ball from going here and there, because they're so hard," Walker said.

She said she knew she just had to par the 18th to win, "and that's all I wanted to do."

Walker's eagle on the 16th, set up when she dropped a 6-iron shot eight feet from the pin, had put her one stroke in front of Tschetter and Daniel. Tschetter already had finished, but Daniel, last year's leading money-winner, was playing in the threesome directly behind Walker.

Daniel birdied the 16th, but while she was doing that, Walker was dropping an 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th, and Daniel never caught her.

Although she isn't well known outside LPGA circles, Walker has long been respected by the touring pros. She won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average on the tour in 1988, and that year led the tour in top-10 finishes with 18.

And although the $60,000 Lady Keystone paycheck is the biggest of her career, she earned $250,000 with partner Dave Hill in winning the 1988 Mazda Champions tournament.

Asked if it bothered her that her name isn't as well known as those of many touring pros, Walker said: "You make your own name. If I'm there often enough, they'll know my name."

The Florida native and Florida State graduate leads the tour in rounds in the 60s this year -- 14 -- and six of her last 12 rounds have been in the 60s.

Her most recent previous tour victory was in March 1990. She came close two weeks ago in a tournament in Rochester, N.Y., but lost a two-stroke lead on the final day. She said her goal is to become No. 1 on the tour, and said she is confident she has the game to do it.

The LPGA Tour, which has had 16 different winners in 17 tournaments this year, moves to Wilmington, Del., this week for the McDonald's Classic.

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