Coming to the defense of LPGA

May 12, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

WILMINGTON, Del. -- The site has been changed, and so has the tournament sponsor. Not to protect the innocent necessarily, nor to confuse the participants.

But Patty Sheehan certainly seemed perplexed.

Having won last year's Mazda LPGA Championship at Bethesda Country Club, is Sheehan the defending champion of this year's $1.1 million McDonald's LPGA Championship?

"When I didn't win?" Sheehan said yesterday. "It's a strange and different situation. I'm not sure. People say, 'Gosh, you played well here last year,' and I'm thinking, 'No, I didn't.' I just have to roll with it."

After seven years of playing host to an event that many players considered the LPGA Tour's "fifth major," Du Pont Country Club will serve as the site for the second of this year's four major tournaments.

It marks the 12th course in the LPGA Championship's 40-year history, including a two-year stay at Pine Ridge in Baltimore County. It is the first move since the event was switched from Kings Island outside Cincinnati to Bethesda in 1990.

It comes at a time when the relatively long but not particularly treacherous, 6,386-yard course is making a comeback from the havoc caused by winter ice storms and freezes, which damaged the greens.

"I think a lot of us were coming here expecting to see dirt," Dottie Mochrie said.

Sheehan said: "They did a great job. I think I'll have them come do my yard."

"We figured we got about 98 percent recovered," said Earl Shafer, general superintendent of grounds. "But a week after it thawed, we saw we were in trouble."

"They've done an excellent job getting in shape for us," said Britain's Laura Davies, who won here last year, when McDonald's sponsored its own LPGA tournament.

Davies comes in as the player to beat, with two victories on the tour this year and three total among eight top 10 finishes in 11 events worldwide. Though her sometimes erratic driving wasn't suitable to the tight fairways at Bethesda, her superior length off the tee could be a major factor this week because the fairways are fairly wide.

But as Sheehan, who won here four years ago for her third McDonald's title, said yesterday, "The short-knockers can play well on this course, too."

One player who likely won't win this week is Donna Andrews, the only LPGA member with a chance at this year's Grand Slam. Andrews took a month off after winning her first major at the Nabisco Dinah Shore, and she has not gotten her game back. On top of that, she came down with a head cold that forced her to withdraw from yesterday's pro-am.

"As they say, 'Beware of the sick,' " said Andrews, who didn't sound too threatening.

Sheehan comes into this tournament in her worst slump in more than six years, having not won since she celebrated her third LPGA Championship title by getting tossed into the pool at Bethesda Country Club by 1991 winner Meg Mallon.

Counting up her various LPGA Championship and McDonald's Championship victories, Sheehan said jokingly, "I guess that makes me a five-time champion, I think."

LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Where: Du Pont CC, Wilmington, Del.

When: Today-Sunday (single 18-hole rounds each day).

Course: Par 71, 6,386 yards

Purse: $1.1 million (First place, $165,000)

Defending champion: Patty Sheehan

Field: 144 players (cut to low 70 and ties for last two rounds)

Tickets: Available at gate. $14 today-tomorrow; $16 Saturday and Sunday)

Parking: No public parking at clubhouse. Free parking is available, with continuous shuttle service, from Brandywine Raceway, Route 202 and Naamans Road (Today-Sunday) and Delaware Park, off Delaware Route 7 (Tomorrow-Sunday).

Directions: Take I-95 north and follow signs (about 75 minutes from I-95 and Baltimore Beltway northeast of Baltimore.)

SELECTED TEE TIMES

Today (7:30 a.m.-1:50 p.m.)

First tee: 8:10--Tina Barrett; 8:30--Barb Bunkowsky, Shelley Hamlin, Lauri Merten; 9:10--Amy Alcott; 9:20--Betsy King; Noon--Patty Sheehan, Laura Davies, Sally Little.

10th tee: 8:20 Vicki Goetze; 8:30--Juli Inkster; 8:40--Donna Andrews, JoAnne Carner, Dottie Mochrie; 9:00--Nancy Lopez, Alice Ritzman, Beth Daniel; 9:20--Chris Johnson, Michelle McGann, Jane Geddes; Noon--Kelly Robbins, Pat Bradley, Sherri Steinhauer; 12:20--Cindy Rarick, Jan Stephenson, Rosie Jones; 1:20--Troy Beck; 1:40--Kim Williams.

Tomorrow (7:30 a.m.-1:50 p.m.)

First tee: 7:50--Beck; 8:10--Williams; 8:30--Robbins, Bradley, Steinhauer; 8:50--Rarick, Stephenson, Jones; Noon--Inkster; 12:10--Andrews, Carner, Mochrie; 12:30--Lopez, Ritzman, Daniel; 12:50--Johnson, McGann, Geddes; 1:50--Goetze.

10th tee: 8:30--Sheehan, Davies, Little; Noon--Bunkowsky, Hamlin, Merten; 12:40--Alcott; 12:50--King; 1:40--Barrett.

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