Despite rainy conditions, the tourney had dramatic finishes.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- If there are two significant factors pertaining to the past LPGA tournaments at Squaw Creek Country Club, they are bad weather and playoffs.
The Giant Eagle LPGA Classic will return to Squaw Creek this week after an eight year absence during which it was played at Avalon Lakes Golf Course.
In the three years that the tournament was played at Squaw Creek (1990 through 1992), all three events ended in a deadlock and were forced into sudden-death playoffs.
In 1990 and 1992, the tournament was hit by severe weather conditions. Both times play was suspended and had to be resumed the following day.
Lou Greco, Squaw Creek course superintendent, remembers those days well, although he would like to forget them.
"In 1990, it rained harder here than I've ever seen it rain in the 40 years that I've been here," Greco said. "I had my doubts that we would even get the tournament finished."
That year, the golf course was hit hard the week prior to the tournament by heavy storms.
Then on the Friday night after the first round, over a quarter-inch of rain fell.
The second round began in a slight rain. The heavy stuff hit later, forcing a 1 hour, 45 minute delay. The last group didn't finish until 9 p.m.
Puddles: The day for the final round, the skies just opened up and nearly two inches of rain came pouring down. The round was finally suspended at 7:30 p.m. with over half the field still on the course, forcing a Monday finish.
"It was unbelievable out there on Sunday," Greco said. "These wasn't anywhere for people to walk and there were puddles so huge that we would have had to put the drop area 25 to 30 yards behind them."
If that wasn't bad enough, on Sunday, a tornado had been cited near the area and players and fans were all escorted to safety. Luckily, the tornado never came close to the course.
The 1991 tournament was played in near perfect conditions with no threat of rain, but in 1992, the third and final year for the tournament here, the rains returned.
Play suspended: That year, there were three rain suspensions on Friday's first round, the final one forcing suspension of play for the day at 7:30 p.m. with 51 golfers still on the course.
On Sunday, another storm hit the course, this time forcing a 38 minute suspension before the final two groups had even teed off.
The rain held off after that and the tournament was completed on schedule.
"If there is one thing about this golf course that is a problem, it is that it doesn't drain very well," Greco said. "We can only hope for dry weather this year."
Great finishes: Regardless of the rain, all three tournaments had tremendous finishes ending in playoffs.
In 1990, after the field came back to finish on a Monday, Beth Daniel and Patty Sheehan were deadlocked for the title. Daniel defeated Sheehan on the first sudden-death playoff hole, which was the No. 16 hole at the time.
In 1991, Deb Richard and Jane Geddes finished in a tie for the lead and went back to the No. 18 tee for their playoff. Richard made birdie and won the title.
The final tournament at Squaw Creek ended in a four-way tie between Betsy King, Beth Daniel, Donna Andrews and Meg Mallon. King made a birdie on the first playoff hole, No. 18, to win the crown.
Overall playoffs have been a regular event at the Giant Eagle Classic since seven of the 11 previous tournaments have been decided by extra holes.
Last year, 19-year-old rookie Dorothy Delasin defeated Pat Hurst on the second playoff hole to win the tournament at Avalon Lakes.