Meg Mallon wins LPGA Canadian Open

Sunday, August 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


That's all Meg Mallon needed.

She took advantage of a gust of wind that cost Scotland's Catriona Matthew the lead on the back nine and won the Canadian Women's Open on Sunday by three strokes despite a closing 73.

It was the 10th come-from-behind victory for Mallon, who finished at 4-under 284 and took home the winner's share of $180,000.

``When I woke up this morning, I saw the conditions, and I just knew it was going to be a very difficult day,'' Mallon said after her 14th LPGA victory and first since she won the du Maurier Classic two years ago. ``I knew that nobody was going to come from behind and shoot a low round to come back.''

Not on this day. It only briefly sprinkled in late morning, but as predicted the nasty wind returned with a vengeance, gusting over 30 mph all day, playing havoc with every shot, and making the greens oh-so-fast. The top 10 players combined for 33 bogeys, four double bogeys and one triple bogey, and only Canadian Lorie Kane broke par (71).

Matthew, who began the day with a one-shot lead over Mallon, was unable to recover from a disastrous triple bogey at the 12th hole, even though Mallon gave her the opportunity with three bogeys on her final seven holes. Matthew finished with a 79 and 1-under 287, tying Michelle Ellis of Australia and Michele Redman for second.

Se Ri Pak of South Korea was alone at even-par 288. Charlotta Sorenstam of Sweden and Gloria Park of South Korea finished another stroke back.

The wind made every hole seem like Summerlea's signature hole. That distinction, however, belongs to the 344-yard, par-4 12th, with its hard-sloping green and narrow fairway, and it was Matthew's undoing. After going 1 under at 12 through the first three rounds, she drove into the teeth of the wind, and it swept the ball out of sight.

``I was just hitting a little 4-wood that I didn't hit that bad, got it turning left, and it went with the wind and ended up in the bushes,'' said Matthew, who was forced to take a drop that cost her a penalty stroke. ``That 12th hole really threw me, and the last few holes it was tough to try and make birdies. You were really just trying to make pars.''

Matthew managed to chip onto the fairway and put her fourth shot on the fringe. She chipped to 5 feet but needed two putts to get down and dropped to 4 under.

Mallon, who had birdied 11 to move into a tie for the lead, had her problems at 12, too, when her putt for birdie rolled well past the hole and the wind kept pushing it farther away. When she went to mark it, it rolled some more, nearly costing her a penalty, and she ended up with bogey.

Mallon bogeyed 13, too, but Matthew's tricky 5-foot putt for par on the hole rimmed the cup and stayed out as she squatted and turned her head in frustration. Still, Mallon refused to dream about winning. Not with that wind.

``I couldn't let myself think that way because I knew how difficult the holes were coming up,'' said Mallon, whose drive at No. 14 clipped some trees on the left side of the fairway and ricocheted off the forehead of a woman in the gallery. She was dazed but unhurt. ``It was a matter of not making anything bigger than a bogey.

Matthew already had, and she never recovered, carding bogey at Nos. 15 and 18.

``That would have been a windy day at home as well,'' Matthew lamented.

Matthew, who ended the third round with two straight birdies, made it three in a row at No. 1 to open a two-shot lead over Mallon, whose first drive of the day landed in a fairway bunker.

Matthew, used to playing in the wind in her native Scotland, continued her steady play with 10 straight pars. Mallon managed par at No. 1 and moved within one shot of the lead with a birdie at the sixth hole.