2004: Mallon remains on fire at Farr

Sylvania, Ohio

Annika Sorenstam won in Sweden, but Meg Mallon closed the gap in the United States.

Sorenstam earned her 69th worldwide title at the HP Open in her native country, making two eagles in a final-round 64 for a two-shot victory over Carin Koch. But Mallon gained ground on the world’s No. 1 player in the LPGA money race. Mallon’s final stretch at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Aug. 8 resulted in her third victory in five events, 18th of her career, and was worth $165,000.

The U.S. Women’s Open champion birdied three of the last four holes in her 3-under-par 68, overcoming a four-shot deficit with six holes left and capping her run with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole.

Mallon finished at 7-under 277 and edged Women’s British Open champion Karen Stupples (73) and perennial Jamie Farr contender Se Ri Pak (68) by a stroke.

“I was set over that putt (on 18) and I was thinking, ‘I’ve won the U.S. Open. I don’t get nervous.’ But I’ll tell you what, I was nervous,” Mallon said. “My hands were shaking, I was breathing hard. But that’s exactly what you play for.”

Mallon, 41, is playing the best golf of her career and is No. 2 in earnings, trailing Sorenstam by less than $420,000 ($1,665,208 to $1,245,288).

“At this stage of my career, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this,” she said. “I know how fleeting it is.”

Stupples, who shot a final-round 64 to win at Sunningdale Golf Club the previous week, opened with a 6-under 65 in Round 1, despite teeing off just hours after a 13-hour flight from London and without having seen the course. But her whirlwind week may have finally caught up with her Sunday.

Stupples led by three at the start of the day and maintained that margin through 11 holes. But she hooked her drive on the par-4 12th into the trees and made bogey, then missed a 5-foot par putt on the next hole and suddenly was tied for the lead with Pak, who pulled even with a 15-foot birdie on No. 16. Mallon made it a three-way tie with back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16.

“I really have no complaints,” Stupples said. “If somebody had told me I’d tie for second at the start of the week I’d have jumped all over it. I gave it a good try today but it just wasn’t in me.”

Pak barely missed a 10-footer at No. 17 for sole possession of the lead, and her 18-footer for birdie just curled away on the par-5 closing hole. Pak, trying to become only the second player to win the same LPGA event five times, has struggled with her driver since winning at the Michelob Ultra Open in early May, with only two top 25s in her previous eight events.

“I haven’t been happy with much at all,” said Pak, who won here in 1998-99, 2001 and 2003. “But as soon as I landed here, for some reason I felt very comfortable.”

– Staff and wire reports

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