PALM HARBOR, Fla., Nov. 21, 2010 – Just as she did 13 times in the prime of her 24-year career on the LPGA Tour, Rosie Jones proved to be a hard-to-catch frontrunner.
Jones was the wire-to-wire winner of the ISPS Legends Tour Open Championship today, carding rounds of 67-68 for a 9-under total of 135 in the Legends Tour’s only major championship.
And perhaps as a point of emphasis from the 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup captain, Jones won by five shots at the Island Course at Innisbrook Resort and Spa over Michele Redman, a former four-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member who hopes to make next year’s squad.
Redman carded a one-under 71 in today’s final round and finished at 4-under 140 for the week. But like the rest of the field, she could never catch the captain.
“I was kind of nervous overnight because a couple of good players were right behind me,” said Jones, who earned a $50,000 winner’s check. “I was hitting it kind of mediocre coming into the tournament, but it really started clicking today.”
Jones birdied her second hole from 12 feet, stuck her approach to four feet on No. 4 for another birdie, and then slammed in a 15-footer for birdie on the sixth hole. She drained her final birdie of the day from four feet on No. 10 with a bogey-free effort. One of the LPGA’s most tenacious putters throughout her career, Jones even gave fans circling the 18th green a chance to witness a 40-foot downhill birdie putt. The captain burned the left edge of the cup and made the comeback putt for par from four feet for the win.
“She’s always been a good putter and she doesn’t make any mistakes,” said Redman, who recorded four birdies and three bogeys in today’s final round.
Of course, at a Legends Tour tournament, which offers competition for LPGA pros ages 45-over, there were some experienced eyes watching the leaderboard this afternoon, including several Hall of Famers and former Solheim Cup captains.
One of those players was 43-time LPGA Tour winner JoAnne Carner, who also captained a U.S. Solheim Cup team.
“Rosie has always been a good player and a fantastic putter,” said the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member. “You get her going and you can’t catch Rosie. And on this golf course, you have to hit your irons in the right position on the greens to get them close. She’s obviously doing that.”
Another former U.S. Solheim Cup captain and 35-time LPGA winner, Patty Sheehan, shook her head.
“I’m not surprised because Rosie can still play,” said Sheehan, also a Hall of Famer. “And as the next Solheim Cup captain, this is really important because players like to see that their captain is competitive and still has the fire.”
Barb Moxness, who played on the LPGA Tour from 1978-1986, finished in solo third place at one-under 143.
Tour veteran Jane Crafter, who spends most of her time working as a color analyst for the Golf Channel, made the biggest move up the leaderboard today with her final-round score of 69 to finish fourth at even-par 144. Crafter made her timely move with a hole-in-one on the par-three 13th hole today. She used a 6-iron for the 134-yard uphill, into-the-breeze shot. It was her second ace in competition and her sixth career hole-in-one.
The trio of Beth Daniel and Legends Tour rookies Lorie Kane and Meg Mallon tied for fifth at one-over 145. Rounding out the top 10 in a tie for eighth at 2-over 146 were Alicia Dibos, Cathy Johnston-Forbes, Cindy Rarick and Cindy Schreyer.
But it was Captain Rosie Jones’ week to shine. She won her second LPGA tournament about 32 miles from here back in 1988, so the good vibes were already in place on Florida’s Sun Coast. Admittedly knowing that next year’s demands as captain will allow less time for competition, Jones wanted to get it done today.
“I’ll have to scale back on a lot of things as my duties get more geared up for the Solheim Cup next year,” said Jones, 51, whose win was her fourth Legends Tour win. “But I hope my players will look at me and say, ‘Yeah, she’s still doing it.’ I want them to know that I still take pride in the game.”
And that she doesn’t mind leaving behind her competitors any time she can get a game.
For complete results and more information about the Legends Tour’s event, visit www.legendstouropen.com.