NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Winning in New York is old hat for Rosie Jones. Winning the LPGA Big Apple Classic was a first.
Jones birdied the final hole for a 1-under-par 70 Sunday that gave her a one-stroke victory over Laura Diaz in the Big Apple Classic, a tournament she had come close to winning three times.
The win was the 12th of Jones' career and five of them have come in the state of New York.
"So many great, important things have happened for me in New York," said Jones, who has won just over $1 million in the Empire State. "I have no idea. I'm not really fond of the city but I really love the state and I'm paying a lot of estimated taxes so I better love it. It's not a bad problem to have."
The 41-year-old Jones, who won for the second time this year, finished third in this event in 1990 and was second in 1993 and again last year by one stroke to Annika Sorenstam at the 6,161-yard Wykagyl Country Club course.
"It's all been fun. I don't see finishing second as a negative," Jones said. "I've had great history as this golf course. I don't like going home second, especially two years in a row, but the chase is great, especially on this golf course because every single hole if tough. It's a relief now to know I warded off those young players and beat them."
She had a three-stroke lead entering the final round of the $950,000 event. She was still up by two until three-putting the par-3 16th.
Diaz, who finished second for the fourth time this year, rallied from a bogey on the par-4 17th with a birdie from 20 feet on the par-5 18th to finish at 11-under 273 after a closing 66.
Jones drove into the right rough on 18. Her second shot landed in the first cut of rough 127 yards from the green. Her third shot landed just short of the pin and she made the 2 1/2 -foot putt to give her the win.
"I hit a three-quarter 8-iron just perfect and from up there it looked like a tap-in," Jones said. "I hadn't been making putts all day but I knocked that one in like a trooper."
Her 12-under total matched the second lowest in tournament history. The win was worth $142,500 and made Jones the fourth multiple winner on tour this year, joining Sorenstam (five), Se Ri Pak (three) and Karrie Webb (two).
Jones, who won the LPGA Corning Classic and the Wegman's Rochester International twice each, birdied the par-4 9th to get to 12 under and had a three-shot lead over four players when she made the turn.
It was the first time Americans finished 1-2 in an LPGA tournament since last year's Betsy King Classic, a span of 28 events. Americans held six of the seven top spots on the final leaderboard.
Kris Tschetter had her best finish of the season and her third straight in the top 10 with a closing 66 that left her third at 10-under 274. Tschetter missed a 20-foot birdie on the 18th hole.
Michele Redman, who won this event in 1997, had a 69 and was fourth at 275 after just missing birdie putts on the final two holes.
Rachel Teske matched the low round of the tournament with a 7-under 64 Sunday to finish at 8-under 276. Teske was 4 under for a four-hole stretch starting at the 12th that included a hole-in-one on No. 13.
Nancy Scranton, who opened the tournament with a 64, closed with a 71 to also finish at 276 along with Lorie Kane of Canada, who had a 68.
Diaz, who has yet to win on tour but is seventh on the money list, was asked what she has to do to break through after the four runner-up finishes.
"I feel like I've broken through," she said. "I shot 11 under. I didn't win the golf tournament but I played good golf and that's all I can do."
Jones can sympathize.
"I know Laura's looking for the first win and I hate to deny her but she's knocking at the door," Jones said. "That happened to me a lot."
Diaz is a good friend of David Duval, who won the British Open earlier Sunday for his first major championship.
"It's awesome that he won," Diaz said. "In the back of my mind I was happy he won and thought that if I'd win too how sweet that would be."
LPGA Hall of Famer Betsy King was one of only four players to reach 10 under and she did it with a birdie on the par-4 11th. But she bogeyed the par-4 12th and then fell off the leaderboard with a quadruple-bogey 8 on No. 14 that included a tee shot out of bounds and a sculled shot from a greenside bunker. King, who won the first two editions of this tournament in 1990 and 1991, finished with a 75 for a 281 total.
Divots: Teske used an 8-iron for the hole-in-one on the 141-yard 13th, the ninth ace in the 12 years of the tournament and the first since Erika Wicoff had one on the same hole in 1999. It was the 28th hole-in-one on tour this year. ... Sorenstam, the leading money-winner on tour, closed with a 66 and was at 277. She set the tournament record when she won in 1998 with a 19-under 265 total. "I felt good all day, actually all week," Sorenstam said. "It was a little windy out there and I thought if I could post a good number I could put a little pressure on the others."
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