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Birdie String Only Part of This Comeback Story : LPGA: Nause, barely able to walk last year because of illness, scores first victory since 1991.

From Associated Press

Martha Nause, stricken with a severe infection last year that left her barely able to walk, birdied four of the last seven holes Sunday to win the du Maurier Classic for her first major LPGA title.

On a rainy, windy day, Nause closed with a one-under 71 for a four-round total of nine-under 279. She finished a stroke ahead of her playing partner, Michelle McGann.

“This is the greatest,” Nause said. “This is so cool.”

Betsy King, one tournament victory from entering the LPGA Hall of Fame, will have to wait a little longer. She was two strokes off the lead entering the final round, but had an erratic round with six bogies and five birdies. She finished with a 73 for a 283.

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Nause’s winning push came after an 85-minute thunderstorm delay on the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club course.

Her victory also follows a yearlong rehabilitation from an illness that almost ended her career. She spent much of 1993 recovering from an infection that caused severe nerve damage in her ear.

“I had to hold on to things to walk, I couldn’t drive a car at all,” she said. “My doctor told me to consider never playing again. He was wrong. I’m just finally realizing I’ve got everything I need to be a winner.”

Nause, 39, of Sheboygan, Wis., is the oldest tour winner this year. She won $120,000, almost tripling her tour earnings for this season and pushing her over $1 million for her career. She had just two tour victories before Sunday, the previous one coming in 1991.

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Nause made the turn one under and bogeyed the 10th hole. But she birdied Nos. 11, 13, 14 and 15 to take a two-stroke lead on McGann. Nause bogeyed the par-three 17th but parred the 18th.

The course yielded record-low scores four days ago, but Sunday proved more vexing with intermittent rain squalls, swirling winds and encroaching thunder.

On Thursday, 12 golfers shot 68 or better and 56 shot par or better--the previous course record for women. Nause managed to tie the men’s course record of 65, last matched in 1960 by Jack Nicklaus.

But among Saturday’s top 10 leaders, only Nause broke par Sunday as weather conditions made the final round a battle of survival.

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