Not even rain could stop Bradley's birdie parade

September 04, 1991|By Rick Pearson | Rick Pearson,Chicago Tribune

SPRINGFIELD,ILL. — SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Pat Bradley said the first time she suffered a letdown in the rain-extended LPGA Rail Charity Golf Classic was when she finally looked at the leader board on the last hole yesterday and saw she held a six-stroke lead.

"I did not want to spend my last five holes looking at the leader board every two minutes," Bradley said. "When I looked at the board, I could almost feel the adrenalin, and everything just kind of came down because it had been a pretty intense 3 1/2 days of golf."

So intense was Bradley's concentration and confidence that her game flourished despite the weather delays. She made three consecutive birdies after a two-hour rain delay Monday. And when lightning pushed her final five holes to yesterday, she came back to birdie the next two before parring out for a 7-under-par 65.

The two-day string of five consecutive birdies helped give Bradley a winning total of 19-under 197, bettering Jan Stephenson's LPGA record of 198 for a 54-hole tournament set in 1981 and putting her only two victories shy of automatic entry into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

"At this stage in my career, whenever I can get my name in the record book, I think it's great," said Bradley, 40, after collecting the $60,000 winner's check. "I'm just very, very happy to have won again and this puts me one step closer to the ultimate goal of getting into the Hall of Fame."

Bradley gained a one-stroke lead over first-round leader Laura Davies with a birdie on the par-4 eighth hole on Monday. From that point on, Bradley never had to look back or at the leader board.

Danielle Ammaccapane, with a closing 66, finished at 13-under 203. Davies, who tied an LPGA single-day record with an opening-round 62, ended with rounds of 70-72 to finish in a third-place tie with LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open winner Meg Mallon at 204.

While most players spent the weather delays frantically trying to rearrange travel plans for this week's Ping-Cellular One Championship in Portland, Ore., Bradley said she patiently analyzed the holes still ahead.

"And lo and behold, when I came back out on 11 [Monday], I birdied 11, I birdied 12 and I birdied 13," she said. "[Monday] night, I went over the remaining holes and lo and behold, don't I come out and I birdie 14 and 15."

For Bradley, who also won the 1978 Rail Classic, yesterday's victory was the 28th of her career, pushing her all-time money-leading total to more than $3.96 million and keeping her No. 1 in earnings this year with $616,040.

"Pat's been playing like that all year," said Ammaccapane. "She's just so tough . . . especially when she's got such a goal as the Hall of Fame, and I think that's what she's striving for now."

Bradley is trying to remain patient and keep her game consistent as she tries for the 30 wins needed for entry in the Hall. But she said the Rail, with its starts, stops and extra day, left her physically and emotionally drained.

"I don't think too many people realize that it takes every ounce of me to play this game," she said. "People get their money's worth when they watch Pat Bradley play. That's why I have these gray hairs. I could feel them growing the last few nights."

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