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Diaz Earns Win No2 at Corning

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Laura Diaz used a chip-in par and a birdie at her 72nd hole to shoot a 2-under 70 Sunday and win her second career title at the LPGA Corning Classic. Her 14-under-par total of 274 was good for a two-shot victory over playing partner Rosie Jones.
 
'I think that winning any golf tournament, no matter if it's one or 38, I think they're all pretty tough,' said Diaz, who won in wire-to-wire fashion. 'I think the only difference is you're a little more comfortable in the position. So I think that until I get to that 38th win, I think I'll probably feel the same way I did in Tucson and I did here.'
 
Diaz earned her first LPGA Tour victory in March when she finished one shot better than Juli Inkster at the Welch's/Circle K Championship. The early-season win came after a breakout 2001 campaign that saw her post four runner-up finishes and crack the top-five in the rankings.
 
Marnie McGuire (67) and Silvia Cavalleri (70) shared third place at 11-under-par 277, followed by Jung Yeon Lee, who finished alone in fifth at minus 10.
 
Diaz held a one-stroke lead over Cavalleri when Diaz made a mess of the par-4 ninth hole at Corning Country Club. She left her second shot in the right rough and played her third to the tall grass left of the green. Diaz chipped in to save the par and maintain her advantage over the field.
 
'It was definitely a highlight,' said Diaz. 'I was frustrated after a bad tee shot and a few more bad shots to get to the green, and fortunately was able to chip a sand-wedge in, and it was great. It's always nice to chip one in. You like them better when they're for birdies, but I think they're a little sweeter when they're a par save.'
 
Cavalleri fell out of the hunt midway through the back nine but Jones hung around, keeping herself within two of Diaz. At the par-3 15th, Jones ran home a 20-foot birdie putt to reach 12-under and cut the gap to one with three holes to play.
 
Both Jones and Diaz had sizeable birdie tries at the 16th hole and Diaz nearly extended her lead. Diaz's putt fell one rotation short of dropping into the hole while Jones made a routine two-putt par.
 
Jones and Diaz parred the 17th hole but Diaz took advantage at the closing hole. She played a beautiful 8-iron approach out of the first cut of rough that landed six feet from the hole.
 
Jones' approach looked to be on target but she had too much on it and the ball rolled through the green. Her chip for birdie missed right and ran two feet past the cup.
 
Diaz rolled in the birdie putt for the two-stroke victory and the $150,000 first-place check.
 
'It feels good,' said Diaz. 'It was an intense day. I didn't hit it as close today as I had the rest of the week, but I'll take a win any time I can get it.'
 
Jones, a two-time winner of this tournament, quickly erased Diaz's one-shot lead at the start of the round with a birdie at No. 2. The tie atop the leaderboard did not last long as Diaz rebounded with a birdie at the third hole.
 
Jones never made a run the rest of the way, as the majority of her approaches were too far from the hole.
 
'I felt kind of flat out there,' said Jones, who shot a 1-under 71 Sunday. 'I really didn't have a lot of any momentum going, and really just tried hard to put some pressure on her. And neither one of us were really playing that great, and hitting it close and having good chances for birdies. I just didn't feel like I was on top of my game today.'
 
Pamela Kerrigan fired a 5-under 67 and tied for Beth Bauer and Michele Redman. The trio finished at 9-under-par followed by Leslie Spalding, Alison Nicholas and 2001 Corning Classic champion Carin Koch, who posted a final-round 68.
 
Final results from the LPGA Corning Classic