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Jones Beats 2 To Win Firstar

Rosie Jones may have been more amazed than anyone when she received the winner's check at the Firstar LPGA Classic.

"I totally surprised myself this week," Jones said Sunday after beating Becky Iverson and Jan Stephenson in a three-way playoff. "I didn't feel I was playing well enough to win."

Jones didn't have much of a chance to look over the 6,302-yard. par-72 Country Club of the North course in suburban Dayton before the tournament started.

She competed in the Women's British Open last week and went to Paris for a couple of days, then had a flight delay in Chicago, causing her to lose her original hotel booking Wednesday night in Dayton. She didn't find a replacement room until 1 a.m. Thursday and competed in the pro-am later that day, but it was shortened by rain.

She had an even-par 72 in Friday's opening round, then followed with a 67 Saturday to move within two strokes of the lead heading into the final round.

Jones and Stephenson both shot 4-under 68 in that round and Iverson had a 67 as they finished tied at 9-under 207. That forced a playoff in which play alternated between the 18th and 10th holes, both par-4s.

Jones and Iverson both parred the first three playoff holes. Jones made a putt for par on the final hole, giving her the victory after Iverson missed a 15-footer.

Iverson had makable birdie putts on the first two playoff holes, but missed both. On the next hole, she saved par by hitting to within two feet of the cup after pitching out from fairway rough.

"I shot 2-over on Friday and I just made the cut, so I have to be happy" about making the playoff, said Iverson, still looking for her second victory in six years on the tour.

Stephenson, who at age 47 would have become the oldest winner in LPGA history, was eliminated when she bogeyed the first playoff hole. "Now I'm not satisfied. I played well enough to have won," she said.

It was the first victory this year for Jones, who as a former Ohio State graduate had the crowd on her side in the playoff. She won $97,500 of a $650,000 purse.

Nancy Scranton, who was tied for the lead with Akiko Fukushima after two rounds with scores of 7-under 137, almost made it a four-way playoff, but bogied the 17th and finished with a 71, putting her in a five-way tie for second at 208 with Leta Lindley, Mi Hyun Kim, Jill McGill and Hollis Stacy. Ki had the day's best round of 65.

Fukushima had a 75 to finish at 212.

Defending champion Meg Mallon, also a former Ohio State player, had a 73 and also was at 212.

Juli Inkster, winner of five tournaments this year, including two majors, had a 73 to finish tied for 35th at 214.

Jones began the day two strokes off the lead and was 3-under for the round after six holes. She birdied the 11th and had pars on the remaining holes.

Iverson birdied the 13th, 14th and 15th to help earn her playoff spot.

Stephenson, who has won 16 tournaments but is winless since 1987, started the day tied with Jones and five other golfers at 5-under, but bogeyed the second and third holes. She got back in the hunt with birdie on the seventh and an eagle on the par-5 eighth, then birdied the 10th, 11th and 14th to go 9-under and parred out from there.

It was the first time in the tournament's six years a playoff was needed to determine the champion.

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