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Davies Wins Philips LPGA Title

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Laura Davies won her 60th international title, and has her sights set on winning 10 more.

Davies shot a 2-over-par 72 Sunday at the Philips Invitational to hang on for a two-stroke victory over Dottie Pepper.

``Sixty is nice. Hopefully 70 will be even better, but that's a long way off,'' said Davies, wearing the cowboy hat awarded to the tournament champion.

The Englishwoman, who fired a four-day total of 5-under 275 at the Onion Creek Club, said she remembers all her significant victories. And this one — her 19th on the American LPGA tour — should rank with the best.

Without using her driver, Davies cut through the 6,101-yard wind-battered course with precision irons off the tee and a solid short game. Her putter got a little shaky Sunday, but Davies was one of only eight golfers to finish under par.

Davies won $127,500 for her second victory of the year, and needs just three more points in the LPGA's scoring system for automatic qualification to the Hall of Fame.

``I feel like I've had a decent career, but I might not win three more points. You'd hope that, at this stage, I'll have another eight or 10 good years left in me and that should happen,'' she said.

The second annual tournament, a tribute to former Austin resident Harvey Penick, drew a handful of the tour's top players in 1999 but had most of the top players this year.

Even with the impressive field, Davies played the most consistent week of golf in windy conditions.

Pepper started the day back in the pack at seven strokes off the lead and struggled early in falling to 2-over on the front nine.

``At that point, I pretty much hated Austin,'' Pepper said.

After closing with three birdies over the final six holes for a 67, she watched from the clubhouse for an hour as she kept moving up the leaderboard.

``I figured if I played the back nine solid, like I did yesterday, things can happen,'' Pepper said. ``If you play the back nine a couple under, you figure you can get into the top 10.''

Davies started the final round with a three-stroke lead over Susie Redman and Tammie Green before struggles with her putter let the field stay close on the final day.

After her only birdie on No. 2 got her to eight under, Davies lipped out a short putt on No. 5 for bogey. She then missed an excellent birdie chance on No. 10 when she pushed a 9-footer inches right of the hole.

Perhaps still thinking about the missed opportunity, she chunked an iron on the 164-yard 11th, leaving it 3 yards short of the green. After running her chip through the green and two-putting, she found herself just one shot up when Redman birdied No. 12 to get to five under.

Davies dropped another shot with a bogey on No. 13 and starting thinking the worst.

``That's when the panic buttons went off,'' she said. ``Coming off the green, I said `I don't think we're going to win it.' I'm a big leaderboard watcher from Day 1. I figured someone was going to make a move.''

But even when Davies struggled, none of the day's early leaders mustered a challenge down the stretch.

Redman shot a 72 and tied for third at 278 with Moira Dunn, who had a 66, and Alison Nicholas of England, who had a 70.

Even though Davies bogeyed twice on the final nine, she was still two strokes up with four holes left. She needed a little luck to close it out when her tee shot on No. 16 went left and hit a tree only to bounce back into the middle of the fairway.

She escaped with par and avoided any danger on the last two holes to claim the victory.

Green, who almost withdrew from the tournament on Friday with a stomach virus, twice closed within two shots of the lead on the front nine, but three bogeys in a four-hole span dropped her out of contention. She finished with a 75 and was tied for 16th.

Penick, who died in 1995, was considered one of golf's greatest instructors. His pupils included two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw; U.S. Open winner Tom Kite; Kathy Whitworth, winner of 88 tournaments; Mickey Wright; and Betsy Rawls.
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