Price Earns Fourth Title


SUSSEX, Wis. -- Melinda Price of Jupiter, Fla., fired a one-under-par 71 for a 54-hole total of 218 (+2) and earned her fourth Futures Tour career victory at the $60,000 Aurora Health Care Futures Charity Golf Classic. Price won by one shot over recently-turned professional Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, and rookie Soo Young Kim of Chung Nam, South Korea. The duo shot respective rounds of 71 (-1) and 73 (+1) for a three-over-par 219 at the 6,022-yard Ironwood Golf Course in Sussex, Wis.
Price, who was able to fight off wind gusts of 25 mph and a 15 degree drop in temperature in the afternoon, came into the final round tied for sixth with four other players at 147 (+3). She started her round with by making a 15-foot putt for birdie on the par four 293-yard second hole. She carded one more birdie on the seventh hole, making a six-foot putt.
At that point, Price was tied with Kim, who had three birdies and two bogeys in her first five holes. Each player recorded one more bogey and turned tied at two-over-par for the tournament.
'I felt really great on the front nine,' smiled Price, whose last win was at the 2000 Pacific Bell Futures Classic in Moreno Valley, Calif. 'Coming out today, I knew that I had a good chance at winning. The scores were very close and every shot counted. I just wanted to stay consistent and not let the wind or the temperature drop affect my game. I think it made me concentrate more.'
Price was able to live up to her goal. She parred her remaining nine holes and finished at two-over-par 218. Kim, who played in the group behind Price, bogeyed 10, but matched it with a seven-foot putt for birdie on the very next hole. However, on No. 15, the par-5 498-yard hole, Kim misjudged her approach shot and it ended up 150 yards left of the green in the 16th fairway. From there it took Kim two shots to hit it to three feet and she made the putt for bogey. She missed a 20-foot birdie putt on her final hole and finished tied for second with Ochoa.
'I was a little nervous watching Soo (Young Kim) make her last putt,' said Price. 'She was having a good day too and I knew we could have easily gone into a playoff.'
Kim, who will return to South Korea next month due to visa stipulations, but will return to the Futures Tour in August, stated, 'I thought that the green was on the left, which was a very big mistake. I only made bogey on that hole so I was happy. I'm excited at how I placed and I hope that I can return in August and continue to play well.'
Ochoa, who turned professional last week after a stellar year with the University of Arizona, headed into the final round tied with five other players at four-over-par 148. Her even-par front nine included birdies on four and six, and bogeys on five and eight.
Ochoa three-putted from 30 feet on the 12th hole for her final bogey of the round, but followed it with a birdie on 17. On her final hole, the par-4 367-yard No. 18, Ochoa was 90 yards away and missed holing her second shot for eagle by inches which would have tied her with Price. She tapped in for birdie and finished tied with Kim at 219 (+3).
'My day was so much better than yesterday,' stated Ochoa, who earned $5,250 in her first professional tournament. 'The key to winning this weekend was to play consistent. The course was difficult and I think the wind affected us all. I really wanted to win, but placing in the top-three in my first event is more than I could have asked for.'
Price, who was a member of the LPGA Tour in 2000, competed in 15 tournaments and missed keeping her card by $3,000. Her long-term goal is to make it back to the LPGA Tour, but she has set some short term goals to get there: play consistent and swing better.
'I learned a lot about myself when I was on the LPGA Tour,' stated Price, who is married to Golden Bear Tour player Rick Price. 'I learned how to practice, how to conduct myself around large amount of spectators and Tour players. I don't think anyone is prepared when they get out on the LPGA Tour. It is a learning experience for everyone and I'm up for the challenge again.'
Top finishers for the Aurora Health Care Futures Charity Golf Classic: Melinda Price 74-73-71--218 2-over
Lorena Ochoa 71-77-71--219 3-over
Soo Young Kim 73-73-73--219
Amy Dahle 76-73-71--220 4-over
Catherine Cartwright 74-74-72--220