Thursday's final round of the women's City Parks Open could very well have been retitled the Giveaway Open. No less than seven golfers had their chances to win the prestigious tourney, but only one, Laurie Wolfe, was able to reach out and grab the victory.
Wolfe birdied the par-5 18th hole with a tap-in from 12 inches for a 77 and a 153 total to take a one-shot victory over Joyce Billings and Lachell Simmons. Sharon Probst ended two shots back and Idaho's Virginia Undhjem finished three shots back, while first-day leader Patty Price and four-time winner Marcia Thayne were four back.For Wolfe, a 31-year-old who owns an art and framing business in Park City, the victory was the biggest of her life and the realization of a dream she's had for several years.
"This is great," she said. "I've wanted to win this for a long time."
Three years ago, Wolfe needed a birdie at 18 to win but ended with a bogey and lost by one. This time she also went into 18 knowing she had to birdie the hole - and did it.
A half hour earlier, Wolfe had been talking to her caddy about finishing second or third, where she had finished the last three years.
"I was thinking second, not first," she admitted. "My goal was just to play the last three holes even par, because they are so hard."
Except for the 19-year-old Simmons, who made a late charge to finish with a 74 for a 154 total, the other contenders fell apart on the closing holes.
Price was the first to fall as she shot a 41 on the front side and then double-bogeyed the 10th hole. Bogeys on five of the last six holes sealed her fate.
"I had a really rough day. I just didn't have it today," said Price, who had a 3-shot at the start of the day.
Thayne was leading before losing a ball at the 13th hole and taking a double-bogey. She followed with another double-bogey at 17 and a bogey at 18.
Undhjem found disaster at 16 where she hit the sand, hit behind a tree, took a penalty and eventually carded a quadruple-bogey 8.
Billings was in the driver's seat after a birdie at No. 15 left her at even-par for the day and two shots ahead of her nearest competitor and three ahead of Wolfe. She bogeyed 16, which she didn't mind since she had triple-bogeyed there the day before. However, at 17, she got her triple-bogey.
Her second shot went under a pine tree and her third shot across the green. Then her fourth shot from thick rough went about three inches. She finally hit the green in five and two-putted for a seven.
"My second shot was the key one on 16," said Billings. "My fourth shot was behind a tuft of grass - I probably should have putted it. When it rains, it pours."
Watching from the 18th tee was Wolfe, who suddenly was back in the battle in a tie with Billings and Probst, a 17-year-old playing her first City Parks. But Probst found trouble at 18, hitting under a pine tree and ending up with a bogey. That left it up to Wolfe, who hit her drive down the middle, her approach shot to within 20 feet and then two-putted.
"I thought I was completely out of it, until I watched Joyce on 17," said Wolfe. "It showed me never, ever give up."
Billings needed a birdie at 18 to tie Wolfe, but she missed the green in two and was short with her 20 foot birdie try. Simmons, who had vaulted into contention with an eagle-2 at 13, birdied the 18th, but needed an eagle to tie.
Earlier in her round, Wolfe birdied No. 2 with a 35-foot putt, and No. 3 with a 40-foot chip. Bogeys at 5 and 7 left her at even-par 37 at the turn. She double-bogeyed 10, bogeyed 12, birdied 13 with a 20-footer and bogeyed 14 and 15. Then at 16 she stopped the bogey barrage with a 40-foot par putt.
Flight winners included Dot Dempsey, Sandra Fitzgerald, Maxine Hill, Nadine Babcock, Margaret Regan, Renee Atkin and Renee Nelson.