2003: Two streaks snap in Jones victory

North Augusta, S.C.

American players got a little tired of hearing about their recent LPGA ineptitude. So they – more specifically Rosie Jones – did something about it.

Jones, 43, ended a 17-tournament winning streak by foreign-born players and a 22-month winless streak of her own with a three-shot victory May 11 over fellow American Wendy Ward at the Asahi Ryokuken International.

All week, the talk had been about how international players were dominating the tour, and there’s no doubt the talk had merit. Americans won 15 tournaments in 1999, 12 in 2000, 10 in 2001 and only five last year, with Juli Inkster (U.S. Women’s Open in July) and Meg Mallon (Canadian Women’s Open in August) the only U.S. winners in the last 29 tournaments. And entering last week’s event at Mount Vintage Plantation, only two U.S. players were in the top 12 on the money list (Cristie Kerr at No. 6 and Pat Hurst at No. 9).

Then the tournament started, and the Americans caught fire, led by Jones, Ward and Laura Diaz, who finished tied for third but entered the final round in second place, two shots back. Americans filled the top five positions following the second round and the top four spots after 54 holes.

Earlier in the week, many of the top American players didn’t want to talk about their skid, saying it was a nonissue.

“I don’t see it as being an issue in any other sport: our tennis players, our hockey players, our baseball players,” said Diaz. “I think that we’re very strong as a country out here.”

Said Jones: “I have not won a tournament in two years. I don’t care about beating all the international players because I have to beat them anyway. I want to beat all the Americans, too.”

Two years ago, Jones ended a 10-tournament winless run by the Americans with a victory at the Kathy Ireland Championship.

“I was talking about that on the drive here,” Jones said. “It’s just kind of funny that, two years ago, that it was 10 wins before an American hit one and I got it there. And I’m just glad to do it (again).”

Jones led from the very beginning, opening with a 6-under-par 66 that included seven birdies and an eagle.

“My game’s looking really good right now,” Jones said. “I don’t think I’ve hit it this good in a long time.”

Now Jones will try to stop another un-American streak. It has been more than a year since consecutive U.S. triumphs on tour, and seven years since the same American won two in a row (Dottie Pepper in June 1996). Jones will try to do so at the LPGA Corning Classic, a tournament she won back-to-back in 1996 and ’97.

– Staff and wire reports

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