Simpson never trailed throughout the 72-hole tournament and was the only participant to post four rounds under par. Swedens Mikaela Parmlid, who played in the final group with Simpson and Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Mary Kay Marino, finished in second after a final-round 72. She ended the tournament at 3-under-par 285, four shots behind Simpson.
With the score I shot, I dont care if I would have finished 30th, said Simpson, who started playing golf at age 15. It was nice to lead all the way. I never really thought about it and tried to keep the same routine from day one. My swing actually failed me a couple times today, so it is nice to know I can keep it in the red even when my swing isnt there.
Simpson, who competed in 17 events on the Futures Tour this year and finished 66th on the money list, got off to a slightly rocky start as she made the turn at 2-over-par 38 after bogeys on four and nine. The Florida International University graduate found her rhythm on the back nine with a birdie on the par-4 12th and then finished in a flurry with birdies on 15, 16 and 18. She had a chance for birdie on 17, but her attempt came up just shy and stopped on the lip of the cup.
I didnt really think about (my finish), Simpson said. I wanted to get in position and hit fairways and greens. It was a good finish especially after making the turn at 38.
Koreas Il Mi Chung played in the second to last group and finished in third place with a four-day total of 286. Marino and Meredith Duncan rounded out the top five finishing the tournament at 1-under-par 287.
A playoff was needed to determine the final four spots as Nuria Clau, Allie Blomquist, Wendy Martin, Danielle Amiee and Marcela Leon ended the competition tied for 27th at 295 (+7).
Clau, Blomquist and Martin grabbed three of the remaining spots with pars on the second playoff hole. Amiee completed the group of 30 players who will move on to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., Oct. 21-24 with a par on the third playoff hole. Leon was eliminated with a bogey.
The Rancho Mirage qualifier was the second of the LPGA Tours two sectional qualifying events in 2003. The first LPGA Tour Sectional Qualifying Tournament was Aug. 26-29 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla. The top 30 finishers from the California qualifier will join the Venice sectional qualifiers, current LPGA Tour members attempting to improve their status and the five players who finished sixth through 10th on the final 2003 Futures Tour money list at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.