Jane Geddes, who had not won in her four years on the Ladies Professional Golf Assn. tour, shot a 71, one under par, beating Sally Little by two strokes Monday in an 18-hole playoff for the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship.
“I just felt I had something to prove,” Geddes, 26, said. “I had played well in the past. You can have a lot of high finishes, but when you come into the interview room, they always ask you, ‘OK, when are you going to win?’ ”
Geddes’ victory at the NCR Country Club resulted in a $50,000 payday. It was anything but expected, however, since she had never been in a playoff as a professional or an amateur, and Little was unbeaten in four previous playoffs on the tour.
“After a while (the doubts) started rubbing me,” Geddes said. “It started affecting my golf game and my demeanor on the golf course because I started putting a lot of pressure on myself.
“But I really felt I had this to prove to myself and the people who’ve been questioning me. I feel like I’m a very competent player. I feel like this won’t be my last win by far.”
“I don’t feel I gave it away,” Little said. “Jane played well to win.”
Little, who has not won in the last four years, largely because of injuries and illnesses, bogeyed three of the final four holes.
“I started to feel a little spacey at the end,” she said. “It was a little hot, and the intensity was really something. But those golf shots were pretty good today. Not bad for two women.”
Little, with 14 LPGA victories in her 16-year career, collected $25,000.
Geddes, down by three shots on the front nine, took the lead for good with a birdie on the 14th hole, then increased her advantage to two strokes when Little bogeyed the 15th.
Little’s early three-stroke lead evaporated when she bogeyed the eighth hole and left a shot in the bunker on the way to a double bogey on the ninth. Geddes took advantage of Little’s mistakes with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth hole that gave her a one-shot lead at the turn.
Little, a native of South Africa but a naturalized American citizen, birdied the 10th hole to pull even at one under. Both golfers birdied the par-5 12th and parred the 11th and 13th.
Then Geddes pulled away, sinking a five-foot birdie putt on the 14th before Little bogeyed the 15th.
Little pulled within a stroke when Geddes bogeyed the 16th, but Little bogeyed the 17th to push the lead back to two shots.
Geddes is from Huntington, N.Y., and played at Florida State. She became the 11th golfer, and the second in as many years, to make the women’s Open her first professional victory. Kathy Baker did the same thing last year.
Geddes had rounds of 74, 74, 70 and 69 during the rain-plagued 72-hole tournament. Little posted scores of 73, 72, 72 and 70 as both golfers finished with one-under-par 287 totals.
Par Out 434 455 434-36 Geddes Out 425 455 424-35 Little Out 434 344 446-36 Par In 545 343 444-36-72 Geddes In 544 334 445-36-71 Little In 444 344 455-37-73