In front of a home crowd, Dorothy Delasin made her case to be recognized as a worthy competitor.
And, if anyone’s noticing, certainly one worthy of an endorsement contract.
Delasin, 21, played steadily and confidently to win the Samsung World Championship Oct. 7 while two LPGA juggernauts, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak, faltered.
With birdies on Nos. 1, 7 and 18 – and 15 pars – Delasin shot 3-under 69 in the final round for a 277 total. Pak and Webb carded even-par 72s, finishing at 281.
“You have to earn your respect. I just wanted to show the world that I belong here, and I’m not going anywhere,” Delasin said. “If I can do it, people who play anywhere can do it, too. All it takes is a lot of hard work.”
Delasin grew up south of San Francisco, playing for $1 on hard scrabble municipal courses as a junior golfer. Her family lived paycheck to paycheck, “so it was hard growing up, but I tried my best,” she said.
Several years later and a few miles across the Bay, she showed the world’s best golfers what she learned the hard way. She finished her last 31 holes without a bogey, and she didn’t three-putt once during the tournament. For beating an elite field of 20 golfers, she collected the $157,000 winner’s share of the $750,000 purse – her biggest payday ever. She pushed her season’s earnings to $609,792, No. 13 on the money list.
Delasin, who at 19 was the youngest player to win an LPGA event since Amy Alcott in 1975, wept and thanked her fans as she accepted the crystal trophy for her third career victory.
“Seeing everybody out here cheering me on, the feeling was amazing,” Delasin said. “I’ve been working so hard, and having my family out here to support me is great.”
Though Delasin had never played the Hiddenbrooke course, she seemed to know its idiosyncrasies better than Webb or Pak, who both got into trouble in the final round. The long, winding course was designed by Arnold Palmer, and rough winds periodically affected play throughout.
Webb and Pak started the day one stroke behind Delasin. Webb, looking for her first victory since completing her career grand slam in June, never got on track, making a double bogey on the seventh and just one birdie in the final 11 holes.
Still, Webb was pleased – even though she likely won’t have a shot at her third consecutive Player of the Year award.
“It’s the first time in a couple of months that I’ve had a legitimate shot at winning,” Webb said. “I hit the ball a lot better this week, (but) I still haven’t been able to keep the big numbers out of my game.”
Pak, who played with a strained neck, twice closed to within one stroke of Delasin. In the final holes, Pak fell apart, missing short putts on three consecutive holes to drop well behind.
Though Pak was seeking her second consecutive victory and her sixth of the year, which would have tied Annika Sorenstam’s total for the season, she was able to tighten the races for Player of the Year and the Vare Trophy awards. But with three events left the Swede holds a 48.25-point lead, a margin that would be almost impossible for Pak to overcome. Sorenstam would have to end the year with a string of poor finishes, an unlikely prospect in the remaining limited-field contests.
And despite Sorenstam’s mediocre play at Hiddenbrooke (73-71-72-74–290), she still holds a slight edge – 69.44 to 69.69 – in the scoring-average race with Pak.
The South Korean never has won either category, while Sorenstam and Webb are multiple winners of each award.
Like the Big 3, Delasin was Rookie of the Year (2000). But so far her accomplishments have not led to commercial endorsements such as the tour’s top players enjoy.
Delasin is in negotiations with Nike and wore a Swoosh-logoed visor during the World Championship.
“Maybe now they’ll open their eyes,” Delasin said with a grin.
– From staff and wire reports