'This is unbelievable,' said Hannemann, who carded a final-round 70 for a nine-under 54-hole total of 207 to beat Michelle Murphy of Tacoma, Wash., by one stroke. 'I had so many chances all day and I told myself to just get this over with.'
And that's where the punctuation mark comes in. Murphy, winner of last year's York event, was tied with Hannemann at eight-under par going into the final hole at Regents' Glen Country Club. The former LPGA Tour player flared her tee shot right on 18 and faced a 170-yard 5-iron approach shot. Her approach landed short of the green, forcing her to try to run an 8-iron pitch to the uphill hole. The shot had a chance, but rolled 15 feet beyond the cup. Murphy's par-saving putt died in the hole.
'I knew I had to chip in to stay alive,' said Murphy, who carded a one-under score of 71 to finish second at 208.
But Hannemann was perfect off the tee, right down the middle. Then she staked her 8-iron approach from 138 yards to within six inches, setting up the winning birdie putt. That putt ended any chance for a playoff. It beat the approaching sunset. It also put a lid on the 2003 season in which the former Duke University All-American won twice and posted eight top-10 finishes in 14 events.
'She hit that 8-iron and was telling the ball to get down,' said Hannemann's caddie Chris McCalmont. 'I said, 'Get down where? In the hole?' It almost did. Candy just stepped up today.'
Players returned to the course early this morning to complete Saturday's second round, which endured vast amounts of rain, two weather suspensions and storm delays totaling five hours. Second-round play resumed at 7:45 a.m. after a herculean cleanup effort by the club's grounds crew that began at 3:30 a.m. Following the 36-hole cut, the third round began at 12:20 p.m.
Going into the final round, Hannemann and Murphy were one shot behind Kathy Choi-Rogers of Huntington Beach, Calif. But the former UCLA player began losing ground on the back nine, while Murphy and Hannemann finally deadlocked for a tie at the tricky par-4 13th hole where Murphy bogeyed. By the time they reached the 18th tee, tournament officials were whispering plans for a playoff.
'Candy has a great swing and there were no real missed shots,' said Murphy of this year's champion. 'She manages her game extremely well.'
For the player who beat now-LPGA Tour superstar rookie Lorena Ochoa in a playoff to win the individual title at the 2001 NCAA Women's Golf Championship and for the member of two national championship NCAA teams at Duke, Hannemann has spent most of this season measuring her present against her past. Her top-10 finishes have been sprinkled throughout the season. Her most disappointing finish was a second at the Albuquerque, N.M., tournament in early May, where she lost a two-hole playoff to first-time winner Catherine Cartwright of Bonita Springs, Fla.
But Hannemann always knew she had the goods. And as her chance to get what she came for this season drew closer, the Brazilian responded in typical fashion as she always has when pressed against a wall.
'I knew I had to win one of the last three tournaments,' said Hannemann, a non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour prior to earning one of the five exempt cards.
So she just won two of the last three Futures Tour tournaments and earned the third exempt LPGA Tour card that was handed out today to the top five money winners.
Regents Glen is a new venue for the Tour at this event, in its 17th season. And Lee Ann Walker-Cooper of Cary, N.C., who won the second tournament of the season back in late March, made a run for this title in the final round with a 68. But she got no closer than a tie for third with Hannemann's former Duke teammate, Virada 'Oui' Nirapathpongporn. The amateur from Bangkok, Thailand, who won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship a week ago outside Philadelphia, also carded a final-round 68 to tie Walker-Cooper at six-under 210.
And while Hannemann was happy for her friend's top-three finish, the only shortcoming for her stellar day was losing a bet to the rising Duke senior.
'We bet dinner on the lowest score from holes 13 to 18 and I lost to Oui,' said Hannemann, with a smile on her face and a $10,500 winner's check in her pocket.
For the record, Nirapathpongporn scored birdies on holes 13, 15 and 18 to cruise in with a back-nine score of 33 to beat Hannemann's lone birdie on 18 and back-nine score of 35. But dinner was a small price to pay for LPGA-bound Hannemann, who won her first tournament two weeks ago in Maryland, and whose future is looking brighter all the time.