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Daly-Donofrio Defends First Career Victory

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KUTZTOWN, Pa. -- As the LPGA Tour begins the final four events before the Solheim Cup Sept. 20-22, players this week are heading to Pennsylvania for the First Union Betsy King Classic.
 
This is the seventh year of the event, and in that time the purse has doubled to this week's total of $1.2 million. Defending champion Heather Daly-Donofrio certainly has her work cut out for her to become only the second player to successfully defend their title this season. Annika Sorenstam defended her title at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March.
 
This week's event features not only Daly-Donofrio and tournament host and LPGA Tour Hall of Fame member Betsy King, but also Weetabix Women's British Open champion Karrie Webb and two-time 2002 champion Se Ri Pak.
 
U.S.-born players who are near or in the top-10 points standings in vying for valuable Solheim Cup points include Laura Diaz, Dorothy Delasin, Pat Hurst, Emilee Klein, Michele Redman and Nancy Scranton.
 
Rookie Beth Bauer and Natalie Gulbis will continue to battle it out for another week for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors.
 
Futures Tour player Lorena Ochoa is playing in the event on her final sponsor's exemption of the season. She has earned $52,382 on the Futures Tour this year, but more importantly has secured one of the three 2003 LPGA Tour exempt cards by finishing in the top three of the 2002 Futures Tour money list. Joining Ochoa as the tournament's other sponsor's exemption is amateur and University of Texas golfer Perry Swenson.
 
In last year's event, Daly-Donofrio held the lead after the first round with a 7-under-par 65, but Moira Dunn posted 66 and 68 in the second and third rounds to lead heading into the final round. Daly-Donofrio began the final round at 12-under-par, two-shots behind Dunn, and opened with a birdie on the first hole. A bogey on the second hole took her back to even-par for the day, but birdies on the fifth, sixth and eighth holes gave her a one-shot lead over the field.
 
At the turn, she was 15-under-par, and following a bogey-birdie combination on the 12th and 13th holes, Daly-Donofrio finished the final five holes with all pars. As Dunn posted an even-par round of 72 for the day, the only challenge came from Scotland's Mhairi McKay, who was looking for her first career LPGA Tour victory.
 
McKay also started the final round two shots behind Dunn at 12-under-par, and with birdies on the eighth, 12th and 13th holes, she also made her way to 15-under-par. A bogey on the 15th hole dropped her back to 14-under-par heading into the final three holes. McKay was looking to force a playoff with Daly-Donofrio and stuck her third shot on the par-5 18th hole to within two feet. McKay missed her putt just right and finished in second place with Dunn.
 
Catriona Matthew finished fourth at 13-under-par, while 1999 First Union Betsy King Classic champion Mi Hyun Kim finished fifth. Meg Mallon finished 11-under-par for a sixth-place finish, and Pat Hurst posted a final-round 69 to finish seventh.