BETHESDA -- Three holes into Betsy King's final round of the Mazda LPGA Championship, there was no doubt the race was for second place.
And the talk was of next year.
There is a contract for the Mazda LPGA Championship to return to Bethesda Country Club, with June dates. Jan Thompson, Mazda's vice president for marketing, said final specifics had to be worked out with NBC-TV.
Despite less-than-ideal weather conditions after Thursday and early-bird starting times for weekend television, there was praise for the tournament from all sides -- tournament chairman Jim Silman for Bethesda CC, commissioner Charlie Mechem for the LPGA and Thompson for Mazda.
Thompson, aware that tournament officials considered other sites last year, said: "We [Mazda] did not want to move in the first place. There is everything here we want, and the people have done a great job."
* Baltimorean Tina Barrett rolled in three birdie putts on the back nine, then gave them all back when she bogeyed the last three holes (16th from a bunker, 17th on three putts and 18th from a bunker).
The resulting 36-36--72 left her at 4-over 288 with a check for $7,407 that improved her year's total to $86,854.
"It wasn't my week," Barrett said. "I was around the hole all four rounds, but not much dropped." Two that did were a 40-footer at No. 14, and a six-footer at No. 15 that got her 2-under for the day, 2-over for the tournament.
* King's closest pursuers produced most of the day's excitement.
Rookie Karen Noble had a career round and a career finish in shooting 65--278; Liselotte Neumann earned her second straight runner-up finish with 69--278; and JoAnne Carner, 53, became the oldest woman golfer to finish as high as second in a major championship.
And they knew the game was over early.
"When Betsy's hot, she just goes out and whips our butts," Carner said.
Noble said: "I don't know what course Betsy was playing; did she get all the holes? I was just trying to move up the leader board."
And Neumann said: "I decided to be more aggressive -- to go for it. I was playing for second, because there was nothing I could do about Betsy. Seventeen-under is awesome."