BENEPE WINS ON 1ST TRY AS JACOBSEN COLLAPSES LITTLE SINKS PRESSURE PUTT TO TAKE DU MAURIER CLASSIC

"I WANT TO THANK THE WGA (WESTERN GOLF ASSOCATION) FOR INVITING ME," BENEPE SAID AFTER ACCEPTING HIS $162,000 CHECK. "I'M OVERWHELMED. IT'S JUST STARTING TO SINK IN. I WAS PLANNING TO PLAY IN EUROPE LATER THIS YEAR SO I HAD NOTHING TO LOSE."

BENEPE PLANNED TO MOVE TO EUROPE THIS SUMMER, AFTER PLAYING ON THE ASIAN TOUR IN EARLY 1987, THE CANADIAN TOUR LAST SUMMER, THE AUSTRALIAN TOUR LAST WINTER, AND THE NEW ZEALAND TOUR EARLY THIS WINTER.

HE WON THE BRITISH COLUMBIA OPEN IN AUGUST OF 1987 AND THEN TOOK HOME $100,000 IN THE VICTORIAN OPEN EARLIER THIS YEAR. HIS PLAN TO PLAY IN EUROPE HAS BEEN CHANGED NOW THAT HE HAS AN EXEMPTION IN ALL TOUR EVENTS, WHICH HE RECEIVED BY WINNING THE WESTERN.

"I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING THE TOUR THE REST OF THE YEAR," HE SAID. "I WAS PLANNING ON GOING TO TOUR SCHOOL AND NOW I DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT. I'M GOING TO HAVE MAKE SOME DECISIONS."

TOUR OFFICIALS WERE UNABLE TO DETERMINE IMMEDIATELY WHETHER ANY GOLFER HAD EVER WON HIS FIRST PGA TOUR EVENT. BEN CRENSHAW WON HIS FIRST TOURNAMENT AS A PROFESSIONAL BUT HAD PLAYED IN OTHER EVENTS AS AN AMATEUR.

SCOTT VERPLANK WON THE 1985 WESTERN OPEN TO BECOME THE FIRST AMATEUR IN 31 YEARS TO WIN A PGA EVENT.

BENEPE SHOT A 5-UNDER-PAR 139 THROUGH THE FIRST TWO DAYS AND HAD A 69 SATURDAY TO MOVE TO WITHIN FOUR STROKES OF JACOBSEN GOING INTO THE FINAL ROUND.

ON SUNDAY, A QUICK LOOK AT THE SCOREBOARD HALFWAY THROUGH THE FINAL ROUND SHOWED BENEPE, DAN FORSMAN AND JACOBSEN IN A BATTLE FOR THE LEAD. FORSMAN STRUGGLED THROUGH THE BACK NINE AND FINISHED WITH A 73. BENEPE BOGEYED NO. 12 AND FELL A STROKE BEHIND JACOBSEN, PLAYING ONE GROUP BEHIND HIM.

"I FIGURED I HAD TO MAKE A COUPLE OF BIRDIES ON THOSE LAST FEW HOLES," BENEPE SAID.

BENEPE BIRDIED NO. 16 TO TIE JACOBSEN AT 10-UNDER, SETTING UP THE DRAMA ON NO. 18.

BENEPE LANDED 45-TO-50 FEET AWAY FROM THE HOLE WITH HIS APPROACH SHOT ON 18, RAN HIS BIRDIE PUTT PAST BY SIX FEET, THEN MISSED HIS PAR PUTT BY INCHES.

"I HIT IT EXACTLY WHERE I WANTED TO BUT IT JUST DIDN'T BREAK," HE SAID. "I FIGURED I HAD LOST IT."

AT THAT POINT, JACOBSEN WAS IN GOOD POSITION ON THE 18TH FAIRWAY, NEEDING JUST A PAR TO WIN THE TOURNAMENT. HE CHOSE A 6-IRON FOR THE 165-YARD SECOND SHOT INTO THE WIND AFTER LEAVING A 140-YARD SHOT SHORT WITH A 9-IRON SATURDAY ON THE SAME HOLE.

HIS SHOT SUNDAY HIT BEYOND THE GREEN AND BOUNCED INTO THE CREEK ON THE OTHER SIDE. TAKING A PENALTY STROKE, HE POPPED HIS FOURTH STROKE 20 FEET PAST THE HOLE, THEN MISSED THE BOGEY AND TYING PUTT BY INCHES, GIVING BENEPE THE VICTORY.

"I SAT HERE YESTERDAY (ATURDAY) AND TOLD YOU I MISCLUBBED AND I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING TODAY," JACOBSEN SAID. "I FELT A 6-IRON WAS THE RIGHT CLUB. IT CARRIED OVER EVERYTHING AND WHEN YOU DO THAT IT'S AN AUTOMATIC 6 (OGEY)."

JACOBSEN EARNED $97,200 FOR FINISHING SECOND. BRAD FAXON AND ISAO AOKI FINISHED IN A TIE FOR THIRD AT 8-UNDER 280 AND EARNED 52,200.

FORSMAN FINISHED IN A TIE WITH DEFENDING TOURNAMENT CHAMPION D. A. WEIBRING FOR FIFTH PLACE AT 281. --- AT COQUITLAM, BRITISH COLUMBIA, SALLY LITTLE ROLLED IN A PRESSURE-FILLED 20-FOOT BIRDIE PUTT ON THE 18TH HOLE TO EDGE BRITAIN'S LAURA DAVIES BY ONE STROKE TO CLAIM THE $500,000 DU MAURIER CLASSIC GOLF TOURNAMENT. "I FEEL THAT I'VE HAD AN INCREDIBLE SIX YEARS OF HARDSHIP," SAID LITTLE AFTER THE TOURNAMENT, CONSIDERED ONE OF GOLF'S FOUR MAJORS.

"WHEN THAT PUTT WENT IN, THE SIX YEARS OF FRUSTRATION LEFT ME. I REALLY DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I WAS. I HAD NO CONTROL I WAS SO EXCITED. I FEEL LIKE I'VE STARTED MY CAREER OVER AGAIN."

LITTLE, THE LPGA'S 15TH LEADING CAREER MONEY WINNER WITH 35 TITLES, HAD NOT WON SINCE JULY 18, 1982 WHEN SHE CAPTURED THE $30,000 FIRST PRIZE IN THE MAYFLOWER CLASSIC AND FINISHED THIRD OVERALL ON THE TOUR.

THE NEXT YEAR, THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIVE'S CAREER WAS BUNKERED BY ABDOMINAL AND ARTHROSCOPIC KNEE SURGERY AND SHE WAS ABLE TO COMPETE IN ONLY NINE TOUR EVENTS, FINISHING 139TH ON THE MONEY WINNING LIST. FROM THERE, SHE SLOWLY REGAINED HER FORM.

"THE PUTTER HAD LET ME DOWN FOR FOUR OR FIVE YEARS BUT MY 65 ON FRIDAY WAS THE ROUND THAT SET ME UP AND MADE ME BELIEVE THAT I COULD DO IT," LITTLE SAID.

IT WAS THE PUTTER THAT WON IT FOR HER ON 17 AND 18. "THAT PRESSURE SIX FOOTER FOR PAR ON 17 FINALLY SETTLED ME DOWN," LITTLE SAID. "IT WENT IN DEAD SOLID AND I WENT TO 18 WITH ALL THE CONFIDENCE IN THE WORLD." "WHEN LAURA (AVIES) CHIPPED TO TWO FEET ON 18 FROM THE BUNKER I SAID TO MYSELF `IF YOU EVER WANT TO WIN, IT'S NOW.' I DIDN'T WANT TO GO INTO A PLAYOFF WITH LAURA, I KNEW THAT."

IN THE FINAL ROUND LITTLE DROPPED THREE BIRDIES AND HAD BOGEYS ON THE 14TH AND 16TH HOLES FOR HER 71 WHILE DAVIES COMBINED THREE BIRDIES AND A BOGEY IN HER FINAL ROUND 70 TO TAKE HOME THE $46,250 SECOND-PLACE PURSE.

SHERRI TURNER, WHO WAS TIED WITH DAVIES IN SECOND PLACE AFTER SATURDAY, SHOT A FINAL ROUND 72 TO FINISH WITH A 282 TOTAL AND FOR THIRD AND $33,750.

AT RANCHO MURIETA, CALIF., LOU GRAHAM SAYS IT'S TIME FOR HIM TO WIN.

"I FEEL LIKE I'M READY TO WIN," THE 50-YEAR-OLD GRAHAM SAID AFTER SHOOTING A 4-UNDER-PAR 68 SUNDAY TO TAKE A TWO-SHOT LEAD ENTERING MONDAY'S FINAL ROUND OF THE $350,000 SENIOR GOLD RUSH. GRAHAM, PLAYING DESPITE TORN CARTILAGE IN HIS RIGHT SHOULDER, SANK SIX BIRDIES AND WOULD HAVE HAD A BIGGER LEAD EXCEPT FOR A DOUBLE-BOGEY ON THE NEXT-TO-LAST HOLE.

"I HIT THE BALL GOOD, REALLY, EXCEPT FOR THE ONE SHOT THAT WENT OUT-OF-BOUNDS (N NO. 17)," GRAHAM SAID AFTER HIS SECOND STRAIGHT 68 LEFT HIM AT 8-UNDER-PAR 136 AFTER TWO ROUNDS.

BOB CHARLES MOVED INTO SECOND PLACE, SHOOTING A 3-UNDER 69 TO LEAVE HIM AT 6-UNDER 138.

MILLER BARBER, GARY PLAYER AND DAVE HILL WERE TIED FOR THIRD AT 5-UNDER 139.The Jim Benepe World Golf Tour has come to the United States, possibly for good.

Benepe, a 24-year-old from Sheridan, Wyo., played in his first American PGA tour event this weekend and won it, beating Peter Jacobsen by one stroke to take the 85th Western Open title. Benepe entered the tournament thanks to a sponsor's exemption he received because he was a recent graduate of nearby Northwestern University.