2002: LPGA - Back-nine birdie binge helps Teske beat Bauer

Sylvania, Ohio

Rachel Teske gave Beth Bauer another rookie lesson: You usually need a few late birdies to win an LPGA title.

Teske, who almost missed the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic because of delayed flights, had four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine July 14 to earn her second victory of the year by two strokes over Bauer, who was looking for her first LPGA triumph.

Teske, who won the Ping Banner Health in March, bogeyed No. 10 to fall a shot behind Bauer, whose only other top-15 finish was a tie for sixth at the LPGA Corning Classic. But Teske – who finished second in a playoff to Annika Sorenstam here in 2000 – rolled in lengthy birdie putts on the next two holes to tie Bauer, who also birdied No. 12.

Bauer, playing with Karrie Webb in the final group, settled for par on each of her last six holes for a 2-under-par 69 and a 12-under 272 total. Playing a group ahead, Teske dropped in a 15-footer for birdie on No. 15 to take the lead, then sank an 8-footer on No. 16 for a 66. She finished at 14-under 270.

“I don’t think I’ve putted as well as I did today,” said the 30-year-old Australian, who won $150,000 and earned her sixth LPGA title. “They were going in from everywhere.”

Meanwhile, Bauer couldn’t get any birdie putts to fall, barely missing several times.

“It seemed like on the back nine I hit it close a lot,” said Bauer, who had four rounds in the 60s for the first time as a pro. “I was just burning the edge. If I had a few more putts fall today, I think I could have done it. But it just wasn’t meant to be. I don’t feel I gave up the tournament at all. I played solid, but she just played better.”

Webb shared the lead with Bauer at the start of the day, but bogeyed the first hole, double bogeyed the third and could manage only a 70, leaving her tied for third with Laura Diaz (67) at 11 under.

Teske led after a first-round 67, then followed that with a 2-over 73 before rallying with a 7-under 64 Saturday. She also came close to being disqualified after showing up just 45 minutes before Wednesday’s pro-am. If a player misses the pro-am, they are not allowed to compete in the tournament.

Strangely, though, Teske may have considered her pre-tournament troubles a good omen.

“When I won in Evian (Masters in France) last year, I was injured the week before and didn’t think I’d play,” she said. “Then when I won the Betsy King, we didn’t fly out until the last minute because my husband’s sister was sick. Maybe getting here late is telling me something. Maybe I try too hard when I have a lot of time.”

Perhaps more of a surprise than Teske’s victory was the fact that Se Ri Pak didn’t win. Pak won this event three of the last four years, but never recovered from an opening-round 72. She finished 67-68-68 to tie for seventh.

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