Her second straight 1-under par 71 pushed Hayes to 214 and a three-stroke victory on the 5,646-yard course. She had opened with 72 on Monday.
'I just played solid golf for three days,' said Hayes, 34, a seasonal assistant at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and at the Everglades Club in Palm Beach. 'I never had a three-putt green and I never had a penalty stroke.' In 54 holes, she made nine birdies and seven bogies.
Bobbi Salmon of Mount Dora, Fla., the first-round leader at 68, was second among 28 starters with 72-217, despite using a different driver each day after breaking her own during a practice round on Sunday. 'I had some neck and shoulder pain today and just kind of scraped it around,' Salmon said.
The director of instruction at Errol Estate in Apopka, Salmon moved to within a stroke twice on the back nine with birdies at the 10th and 15th holes. But a two-shot swing at the 16th was decisive as Hayes birdied from 12 feet and Salmon missed par from 10 feet after hitting her approach over the green.
Defending champion Cathy Edelen of North Port, Fla., surged into third at 218 by making five birdies on the final nine for 31-70. After a double bogey at the par-4 ninth hole and 39 at the turn, Edelen, the head professional at Sable Trace Country Club in Naples, Fla.,birdied Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14 and 16.
This was the third victory as a professional for Hayes, a PGA member since 1998. 'I won the Massachusetts Women's Open in 1998 and 2000,' she said, 'and I've tried to win this tournament every year, but this is the first time I didn't get all stressed out about it. I was so busy that I didn't have high expectations this week.'
While working at the Everglades Club for the second winter season, Hayes was elevated to first assistant at The Country Club, site of the 1999 Ryder Cup. 'I went to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando last weekend to do some buying for the summer,' Hayes explained. 'I just haven't been able to take a lot of time to play and practice.
'Winning this means a lot,' she added. 'There are a lot of good players here. Winning this gives you credibility as a teacher, with the members of your club and with your peers.' She earned $2,000 from the $12,000 purse.
Rebecca Hayes, Brookline, Mass., $2,000 72-71-71-214
Bobbi Salmon, Mount Dora, Fla., $1,800 68-77-72-217
Cathy Edelen, North Port, Fla., $1,600 76-72-70-218
Debby Murphy, Webster, N.Y., $1,400 75-73-72-220
Suzy Whaley, Farmington, Conn., $1,200 77-74-72-223
Troy Beck, Glenn Dale, Md., $1,000 81-74-74-229
Shannon Hanley, Potomac, Md., 900 74-80-76-230
Susan Kelley, Nokomis, Fla., $800 78-76-77-231
Leah Miller, Orlando, Fla., $433.33 82-78-82-232
Kelly Sheehan, Orlando, Fla., $433.33 79-75-78-232
Jennifer Cully, St. Petersburg, Fla., $433.33 82-71-79-232