There was just one delightful moment throughout the rainy afternoon yesterday when golfer Nancy Lopez acted like the 21-year-old rookie she is.
After winning the Greater Baltimore Open - by three strokes with a 72 for her third victory this year, Lopez asked an official, "How much money did I win?"
"Nine thousand, seven hundred and fifty dollars," he answered.
"Oh, goody!" Lopez exclaimed.
Lopez, the tour's only multiple winner this year, fought the rain and the challenge of her best friend on tour, Donna Caponi Young, shooting a one-under-par round for a 54-hole total 212 Young shot 71.
Lopez tied the Pine Ridge course record of 67 in Friday's opening round and carried a four-stroke lead over Young into yesterday's finale.
Young outplayed the cool youngster on the front side and trailed by just two strokes going into the back nine.
But Lopez birdied 11 and 14 while Young birdied 12 but left makeable birdie putts on the lip at 14 and 16 and bogeyed 15, when the rain helped her lodge a tee shot behind a cedar tree. Young birdied 18 too late, drawing a $6.552 check, her second straight runner-up finsih.
Defending champion Jane Blalock started the day at even par and finished third with a one-under total of 218.
Sharing fourth place at 220 were Sandra Palmer, hometown favorite Carol Mann and rookie Betsy King.
Lopez' seven-under-par victory lengthened her lead in the money list, upping her total to $66,448, more than $20,000 ahead of Penny Pulz. Lopez' previous wins were in the Bent Tree and Sunstar classics, both of which were played in rain.
"I was excited about playing today. I didn't care if it was raining or not," said Lopez. "I just wanted to do the best I could. I'm getting used to the rain.
"I was watching TV last night and a man on the news said that if the tournament was rained out, I would be declared the winner.
"I didn't want that to happen. I wouldn't have felt like I really won the tournament. Winning means more than the money."
Lopez has a strong all-around game and is particularly long off the tees. She said she felt that in order to hold off Yound she would have to birdie the par 5 holes and break even on the rest. She birdied only one par 5, the first hole, with a chip shot to within five feet of the cup.
She felt the turning point came at the ninth hole, when she saw the leader board for the first time, indicating she was five under and Young had moved to three under. By contrast, Yound prefers to ignore the board, which she did all day.
"I saw she was only two strokes behind, and I had a fi ve-foot putt for a par," saif Lopez. "I thought, I've got to sink this putt and when I did, I think that helped me.
"I played very well, I thought. I knew I couldn't shoot over par and win."
Lopez' most spectacular shot came two holes later, when she birdied 11 with a bouncing 30-foot putt.
Lopez dedicated the win to her older sister, Delma Guevara, who told Lopez by telephone yesterday morning that she felt left out since Lopez had dedicated her first victory to her mother, who died in September, and her second win to her father.
Lopez said her biggest problem during her rookie year has been adjusting to the death of her mother, and yesterday, on Mother's Day, Lopez found special meaning in her victory.
"I thought of her a lot today," said Lopez. "She's an inspiration to me."