Crosby's late birdies lead to Lady Keystone win

May 23, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

HERSHEY, Pa. -- For the second week in a row, an LPGA winner waited until the back nine to break away from a tightly bunched field to clinch her place at the top of the leader board.

This time it was Elaine Crosby who got the job done. She birdied the 16th and 17th holes and finished with a 2-under-par 70 to win the Lady Keystone Open yesterday by one stroke at Hershey Country Club.

Crosby's 5-under-par 211 total for three rounds was the second highest in tournament history. Nancy Lopez shot a 212 in 1979.

Crosby edged Laura Davies, who was trying for her third straight victory. Davies chipped in from behind the 18th green for birdie to make it close, finishing with a 71 and a 212 total.

"I didn't hit enough fairways to do anything," she said. "In the fairway, you're under control. Out of the fairway, you can't control how the ball will act on the green. I'm delighted with second."

Davies had won two weeks in a row, including the LPGA Championship last week, when she birdied four holes on the back nine and won by three shots.

For Crosby, 35, this was an elusive victory. She won her only other tournament at the 1989 Mazda Japan Classic. Since then her best finish in 123 starts had been a tie for second, which she'd accomplished three times, including here in 1990.

Her check for $60,000 raised her earnings for the year to a single-season high of $187,189, and pushed her past $1 million for her career.

"It comes down to confidence in your own game -- having a swing you think will endure," said Crosby, who credits a swing change by teacher Jim Flick as the major factor in her improved game.

During her final round, she had only one bogey, and saved par five times. "At [Nos.] 11, 13, 15, I could have made bogeys or double bogeys, but I hung in there and tried to make pars.

"A year ago, I didn't have that confidence. I would have worried about bad shots. Now, if something goes wrong, I know what it is and I can correct it," Crosby said.

It turned out to be another frustrating week for Betsy King. She began the season with 29 victories, one shy of qualifying for the Hall of Fame.

She entered the last round with a one-stroke lead, lost it at the first hole, and finished with eight straight pars and a closing 73 for a 213.

A year ago, she shared the lead in the last round and also failed to come away with the win.

Three final-round contenders erased their chances with double bogeys. Val Skinner made one at the ninth to finish with a 72 for a 213. Missie Berteotti had one at No. 11 and finished at 214. Tina Barrett, from Baltimore, had one at No. 15 and finished at 214.

Barrett, two weeks shy of 28, was working on an early birthday present until the double bogey.

In contention for the first time this year, she battled back from the disastrous 15th, where she encountered tree trouble and took five shots to reach the green of the 488-yard hole.

She went on to roll in three-foot birdie putts on the next two holes. She finished at 214, tied for fifth.

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