Hurst Wins LPGA Electrolux Title

Monday, May 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — Pat Hurst knew she was hitting the ball well with her driver. It was her wedge that needed some work, so she took a lesson before the inaugural Electrolux USA Championship.

It turned out to be a great decision.

Hurst used her wedges repeatedly close to the greens, and she hit the club well enough that it helped her go wire-to-wire for victory. Her 2-under-par 70 on Sunday gave her a four-stroke victory, her first since the Nabisco Dinah Shore in 1998 and the birth of her son last June.

She credited the lesson last Monday with Mike McGetrick for improving the one area that had been lagging in her game. The timing was perfect on The Legends Club's fairly open Ironhorse course, which was buffeted by gusting winds through all 72 holes.

``Those first days, it was like unbelievable,'' Hurst said. ``I was hitting them in there, and I had a lot of spin. Hearing a lot of the other girls saying the greens were hard, they can't hold them. I'm thinking, `Wow, my wedges.'

``It was a lot of fun.''

Hurst sealed her victory with five birdies and three bogeys in the final round for a 13-under 275 total.

Her only serious challenge came from Juli Inkster, who tried to rally from six shots down. Inkster (69) pulled within two strokes with three holes left before finishing with two bogeys for a 279.

Karrie Webb came into the tournament with four victories, not counting two overseas. But she matched her worst round this year with a 74 and a 281 total that left her tied for sixth. At one point, going for birdie, she was interrupted by a cell phone and missed the putt.

Wendy Doolan (69), Michelle McGann (69) and Michele Redman (72) tied for third at 280.

The victory also sealed Hurst's comeback from giving birth to her son, Jackson. She had taken four months off for his birth and tried to return too quickly. Even though she tied her career low with a 64 in her second event back, Hurst had only one top-five finish and that came in March at the Welch's/Circle K Championship.

But she picked up her new caddie, Dan Wilson, that week in Tucson, and she switched to a cross-handed grip for putting last month. Add in the wedge lesson, and everything came together.

She even had her husband pushing her son around in a stroller for the final nine holes of each day. When she capped her first Mother's Day with the victory, it became an unforgettable holiday.

``Of course, it's going to be my only first Mother's Day,'' she said. ``And to do that here in Nashville on this golf course, to lead from Thursday on, yeah, it definitely feels good.''

Inkster, the mother of two daughters, tried to ruin Hurst's holiday. She moved to 10 under with three holes left only to bogey the next two.

``She came back a lot quicker winning tournaments than I did,'' Inkster said. ``I'm very proud of her. I'm glad she won. We need her on the Solheim Cup, so I'd like to see her keep picking those points up and join us on the team.''

Despite holding the lead each day, Hurst kept expecting someone to make a run at her. Webb looked ready when she joined Hurst in the final group on Sunday, but her day went from bad to worse after she started out with a bogey.

The lowlight came on No. 8. Webb was lining up a birdie attempt when a spectator's cell phone went off. She realigned but missed the putt and wound up parring the hole to remain four strokes behind Hurst.

Webb approached the spectator, told him he cost her a stroke and made him show that he had turned off the phone. Webb then bogeyed the par-4 No. 9 and finished with five bogeys and three birdies.