Moodie Wins ShopRite LPGA Classic

Monday, July 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ABSECON, N.J. (AP) — Not only did Janice Moodie of Scotland get her first career win in the ShopRite LPGA Classic, she moved closer to a berth on Europe's team for the Solheim Cup.

``Hopefully, that's my ticket in,'' Moodie said Sunday after shooting a 2-under-par 69 to win by two shots. The Solheim Cup, which matches Europe against the United States, is in October.

``I'm going to go back and play in the British (Open) and then the Compaq Open in Sweden. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.''

In winning for the first time in three years on the LPGA Tour, Moodie showed she can handle pressure — something needed in Solheim play.

Moodie, who lives in Glasgow, made five short par-saving putts on the back nine to join Kathryn Marshall as only the Scots to win on the LPGA Tour.

Marshall won in Toledo in 1995.

``You've got to put it in perspective and realize Scotland's size compared to the United States is like the size of a pea,'' said Moodie, who had three career second-place finishes, including one this year. ``Population-wise, there just aren't as many golfers as there are in the states.''

Moodie, 27, finished the 54-hole tournament with a 10-under 203 total on the Bay Course at the Seaview Marriott Resort.

Pat Hurst, who started the final round seven strokes behind Moodie, shot an early 64. That was good enough to give her a tie for second with rookie Grace Park of South Korea at 205. Park shot a 67.

Juli Inkster, who won last week's LPGA Championship and got into contention by making birdies on five of the final seven holes Saturday, never challenged after an early birdie Sunday gave her a share of the lead. The 41-year-old Hall of Famer shot a 1-under 70 and finished tied for fourth at 206 with Vickie Odegard and Michelle Estill.

As the week began, Moodie was coming out a month-long slump. She finished in a tie for 23rd at the LPGA Championship, but this week she added a new caddie — Pat Fitzgerald — benefited from some recent work with new coaches in Orlando and developed a liking for the course.

The course is similar to those in Scotland in that players have to contend with the wind and can play a number of shots that allow them to run the ball up to the greens.

``This is unbelievable,'' Moodie said. ``I've been working real hard to get this for the last two years.''

Moodie, who earned $165,000, moved into ninth place among this year's leading earners with $370,323.

She shared the first-round lead, led by two shots after the second round and never gave up the lead despite being tied twice Sunday.

A short birdie by Inkster at No. 1 and a bogey by Moodie after hitting into a greenside bunker at No. 2 put them in tie for the lead with Maggie Will and Hurst.

Moodie grabbed it right back with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 No. 3, and a 6-footer at No. 4. Another shot in the bunker, this time at No. 6, dropped her back into a tie with Hurst, who won earlier this year in Tennessee.

Moodie took the lead for good with birdies in the 4-foot range at Nos. 8 and 9.

Once she opened a two-shot lead, Moodie glanced at the leaderboard a couple of times and tried to play par golf down the stretch.

Her putter and short game allowed her to do that. She made a 4-foot par saver at No. 10 and 10-footer at the next hole after blowing a birdie attempt past a tough pin placement.

Moodie also made par savers in the 3- to 5-foot range at Nos. 13, 15 and 16. Each time she made a putt, she pumped her fist in the air.

``That was the key,'' Moodie said. ``I was a little shaky after missing a 3-footer on No. 2 but I holed the 10-footer on No. 11. I was leaving myself clutch putts all day, but I putted solid the last eight or nine holes.''

Moodie is the third foreign player in a row to win the event. Annika Sorenstam of Sweden won two years ago, and Se Ri Pak of South Korea won last year. Sorenstam did not play this year, while Pak missed the cut.

Hurst had eight birdies and a bogey in jumping 34 positions.

Park had six birdies and two bogeys in posting her third top-10 finish this year.

Inskter has two wins, three seconds, two thirds and a fourth in 12 starts this year.