Jan Stephenson shot her fourth straight subpar round today, a one-under 71, and won the $200,000 LPGA championship by two strokes over JoAnne Carner at the Jack Nicklaus Sports Center course.
Stephenson, who held a two-shot lead over Beth Daniel going into the final round, finished with a 72-hole score of 279.
It was the first victory of the year and eighth of her career for Stephenson, who missed several weeks early this season with a broken foot and later was fined $3,000 by LPGA Commissioner John Laupheimer for skipping a tournament to play in Japan.
The victory in the 28th LPGA was Stephenson's second major victory. She shared the lead after the first round, led by one stroke after the second and by two after the third. She led by three after the first hole today when she parred and Daniel, who collapsed on the back side, bogeyed. After that, Stephenson never led by less than two strokes and was five ahead at one time.
Carner, who picked up $19,600 for second, finished with a birdie on the par-5 18th for a 69--281. Janet Alex, who started the day eight shots off the pace, shot 67 and tied Pam Gietzen (71) for third at 283.
"This was such an important tournament, I couldn't relax," Stephenson said afterward. "I played games with my mind all day. It was terrible.
"All day I kept thinking something will go wrong, someone will make a charge and I'm not going to win the tournament.
"It was the longest day of golf I've ever had."
Stephenson, who won $30,000, ended any drama early in the round, barely missing birdie putts on the first and third holes. She finally rolled in a 12-footer for a birdie on the fifth and followed with a nine-foot birdie putt on the sixth.
Stephenson bogeyed the seventh when she three-putted and made the turn at 35, two shots in front of Daniel. But the turning point came with a two-shot swing on the 10th hole, when Stephenson birdied and Daniel bogeyed.
Daniel, who had played inconsistently the entire tournament but still managed to stay in contention, bogeyed three straight holes and finished at 75--285, in a seventh-place tie with Hollis Stacy and Sandra Haynie.
Daniel's collapse left Carner, who turned in 36 and birdied the 12th and 13th holes, and Alex as Stephenson's only competition. Stephenson knocked in a long birdie putt on the 15th to offset a bogey she suffered on the 16th when she caught a bunker.
Patty Sheehan, who started the final round three over, was disqualified for making an illegal drop on the 16th hole.