Murphy entered the final day trailing Wilson by one shot with a 137 (-7) total. She jump-started her victory round with a 12-foot birdie putt on the first hole, followed by another birdie putt on the par-5 475-yard second hole. A bogey on 4 was wiped out with a birdie on 6. She turned at 9-under-par for the tournament and was still one shot shy of Wilson, who birdied two holes on the front side.
Wilson bogeyed 10, dropping her down to 9-under-par with Murphy. Two more bogeys on 15 and 17 left Wilson trailing Murphy, who remained steady with pars on the back nine, by two strokes. Murphy finished strong and improved to 10-under-par for the tournament by draining an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, finishing the round two shots ahead of her nearest competitors. Wilson also birdied 18, making an eight-foot putt, but it was not enough and she finished at 72 (even), for a 208 (-8).
'I was really relaxed out there today,' commented Murphy, who was playing in the final pairing with Wilson and Erdmann. 'I was making good strokes, but left seven putts right on the edge of the hole. It felt great to make that last putt and finish strong. It was a good way to end the season.'
Erdmann started the day tied for second with Murphy and immediately dropped back by three shots with a double-bogey on one. She made up the blemish with birdies on nine, 10, and 13, sending her to 8-under-par for the tournament. Erdmann parred the remaining holes and finished her round with a 1-under-par 71. Price was two shots down after two rounds of play with a 138 (-6). Her final round was made up of birdies on six, 16, and 18, and a bogey on 14, to end tied for second with Erdmann and Wilson.
'I was a little concerned coming into the final tournament because of my position on the Tours money list,' said Price, who finished seventh overall on the 2002 Futures Tour money list with $31,365. 'My main goal was to stay calm and play well so I could remain in the top 10. It feels great to finish strong and now I can rest until the final stage of Q-school.'
Murphy competed for three years on the LPGA Tour in 1998, 2000, and 2001. After missing the cut at the 2001 final LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Murphy re-focused and decided on a new approach. Rather than play a full-time schedule, Murphy and her husband, Dan, returned to teaching at the Stratton Golf School in Stratton Mountain, Vt. The pair instruct golfers between the ages of 14 to 78 with all aspects of the game.
'Teaching has been very therapeutic for my golf game,' stated Murphy. 'I have become a lot more patient and since I am practicing every day, my swing and approach to the game have both improved.'
In addition to teaching, Murphy believes that the turnaround point for her game started back in July, when she was competing in her 10th U.S. Womens Open Championship. She was leading after the first eight holes of the tournament and ended up missing the cut. Five weeks later, Murphy was set to compete in the Green Mountain Futures Golf Classic in Killington, Vt., one hour away from where she resides. However, Murphy forgot to register and she missed the chance to play.
'I was very upset with myself that day,' commented Murphy, who today collected the $10,500 first-place check. 'Mentally, I was not focused on what was important. I was caught up in so many other things and that is not going to help me get back onto the LPGA Tour. I took some time to re-group and to set my priorities straight. This new approach has put me on the right track back to where I want to be.'
In four tournaments that Murphy played this season, including three after her incident in Vermont, she recorded four top-10 finishes, including two ties for sixth and one tie for seventh.