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The 2000 Rookie of the Year is "bummed" that she won't get that chance on the course she won on.



Published: Sun, July 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The 2000 Rookie of the Year is "bummed" that she won't get that chance on the course she won on.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

VIENNA -- Dorothy Delasin remains the same golfer who conquered Avalon Lakes Golf Course and defeated Pat Hurst in a playoff for her first LPGA tour victory.

Only now, the confidence she gained from that experience has raised her expectations.

Winning the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic as a 19-year-old rookie last year was something special for the Lubbuck, Texas, native, and it gave her something on which to build.

"I feel more confident, like I know I can hit this shot and make this putt," Delasin said during her second year on tour. "I just see the course differently now. I know I can go out there, play with the best and win."

Top rookie: Delasin's first win, combined with her other accomplishments in 2000 -- ranking 25th on the money list ($339,112), making the cut in 19 of 29 events and recording seven additional top-20 finishes -- led to her being named the Rolex Rookie of the Year.

"I knew I would win some day," said Delasin, the 1999 U.S. Women's Amateur champion. "I just didn't know when it was going to be."

In July of 2000, Delasin came to Avalon Lakes, with her father, Arsenio, as her caddie.

In the final round, Delasin fought her way into contention with four birdies on the first eight holes. She was at 11-under par following a birdie at No. 11.

After dropping out of a tie for the lead with a bogey at the par-4 15th hole, she returned to 11-under with a birdie at the final regulation hole that forced the playoff.

"Of course, I was looking at the scoreboard," Delasin said. "I was seeing my name move up there slowly, and I was like, 'Cool, my name's up there. This is going to be my best finish of the whole year.'

"I was happy I was up there. I was placing myself for second or third," she said. "I didn't know I was going to win."

Two for the title: Delasin and Hurst, who each carded three-round totals of 11-under 205, began the playoff at the par-4 18th hole, which they birdied.

But at the second playoff hole, the par-4 10th, Delasin took advantage when Hurst hit her tee shot into the rough right of the fairway. Delasin finalized the victory when she made par and Hurst bogeyed.

"My emotions were like a roller coaster," Delasin said of the playoff against the veteran Hurst. "I was just trying to keep myself calm."

After her victory, Delasin embraced her father, who had encouraged her throughout the pressure-packed finish.

"He told me that I had already won because I had gotten that far," Delasin said.

"It didn't matter what place I got. I was just happy to be out there."

Playing without a sponsor, Delasin earned $150,000 for the win, which more than doubled her total coming into the tournament. She also became the youngest player to win an LPGA event since Amy Alcott won the 1975 Orange Blossom Classic.

"It was cool," said Delasin, who resides in South San Francisco, Calif., of her win. "I called up all of my friends after that, but they already knew.

"I went back home and everything was different," she said. "Everyone was saying 'hi' to me. I felt like a movie star."

Chance to defend: Delasin returns to the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic with hope of defending her title, as the tournament shifts to Squaw Creek Country Club.

"I was a little bummed out because I wanted to defend on the same course I won on. It just brings back memories," Delasin said. "But it's just cool to have a title to defend. I feel lucky to have one.

"Half of the players haven't seen this course, either," she said. "So, I guess we're all on the same level field."

A new year means more maturity for Delasin, who is traveling to many tournaments on her own. One of her goals coming into the season was to gain enough points to play for the Solheim Cup.

"I'm learning a lot of stuff just from maturing on tour," said Delasin, who has been using friends and locals as caddies.

"I do miss my family," she said. "That's why my phone bill is so high. I probably have to get a new plan."

Traveling to new destinations has been exciting for Delasin -- for the most part.

"The only thing I don't like about it is the plane rides. I hate turbulence," she said. "I like staying in the hotels -- I don't have to fix my bed, and the towels are fresh."

Making improvements: In addition to her improved confidence this year, Delasin has increased her driving distance and her accuracy approaching the greens. She feels her game has become more consistent.

Time will tell whether those improvements land her the trophy for a second straight year.

If not, Delasin is still having fun.

"I can't see myself doing anything else," she said. "I think I was born to play golf."

richesson@vindy.com




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