Crosby Wins Womens Senior Event

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JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Elaine Crosby smiled and clapped along with the crowd as she walked up the 18th fairway.
 
Her frustration at the Hy-Vee Classic was over.
 
Crosby, twice a runner-up in the Women's Senior Golf Tour event, shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the tournament by five strokes. She finished at 9-under 144 for 36 holes at the Hyperion Field Club, setting records for the best round and best total score in the 5-year-old tournament.
 
'I really kind of had a good feeling coming here this year,' said Crosby, who earned $75,000 for her victory. 'I didn't know I was going to win necessarily, but I just had that feeling when I came out today. I was like, you know, might as well swing.'
 
She swung so well that she ran away from the field after starting the day in a four-way tie for the lead. After a shaky start -- she saved par after hitting her first tee shot into a bunker -- Crosby had an eagle and three birdies in the next five holes and capped her round by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on 18.
 
'You want to finish strong,' Crosby said. 'Even when you have a lead, you want that last birdie putt to go in. That was just awesome. I'll always remember it.'
 
Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez, playing in the tournament for the first time, and defending champion Marilyn Lovander tied for second at 140.
 
Lopez closed with a 68 and was the only other player under 70 for the final round. Lovander, who trailed Crosby by only two strokes at one point, had her second straight 70.
 
Jan Stephenson (71), Jane Crafter (70) and Cindy Rarick (70) finished at 141.
 
Crosby, 46, tied for second in the 2001 Hy-Vee Classic after holding a share of the lead with two holes to play and lost in a playoff the following year. But she gave herself plenty of room for error this year and didn't need it, playing a bogey-free final round.
 
She began pulling away with an eagle on No. 2, hitting a 4-wood to eight feet and sinking the putt. After a par on the third hole, she birdied the next three and just like that, she was 8 under and daring someone to catch her.
 
No one did.
 
'The putter's been feeling really, really good and that's kind of unusual for me,' Crosby said. 'That lets me be very comfortable here on the greens.
 
'I have struggled with my putting for about six years and just this year, it's starting to come back.'
 
Lovander made a brief run at Crosby, dropping to 6 under with a birdie on 10. But Crosby never faltered, running off 11 straight pars before her birdie on 18, and Lovander made bogey on 15 and 16 to fall out of contention.
 
'I saw the leaderboard on No. 12 and it looked like Marilyn Lovander was at 8 under also,' Crosby said. 'I thought that for awhile until I saw her individual leaderboard going down No. 14 and I was like, `Oh, good.' Because I was behind a tree at that point, so it made me feel a little better.'
 
Lopez attracted a large gallery, just as she did on the LPGA Tour, and delighted her fans with a strong closing round. She just missed a 25-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have left her alone in second.
 
'I had a good time,' said Lopez, who plays little competitive golf these days. 'It was fun. I hit some good shots, made some good putts. It was a fun day.'
 
It was even more fun for Crosby, who was savoring her victory Sunday night before returning home to Jackson, Mich., on Monday.
 
'I always stay on Sunday night -- in case I win,' Crosby said. 'I finally did.'