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RETURNING CHAMPION Delasin growing up, moving on in career



Published: Sun, July 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The 21-year-old said her season 'begins here in Vienna, Ohio.'

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

VIENNA -- After Dorothy Delasin completed her final round at the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic last year, she signed her scorecard and walked directly to the locker room.

And she waited. And wondered. And hoped.

"I wasn't watching. I was just sitting there on the couch, just thinking," Delasin said.

Delasin had just put the finishing touches on a 7-under-par 65 in the third round at Squaw Creek Country Club to storm back from a four-shot deficit to begin the day.

Her three-day total was 13-under 203, but would it be good enough?

"I was thinking that I should be out there practicing [in case of a playoff], but I just sat there calming myself down," Delasin said.

Couldn't watch

It wasn't until Tammie Green just missed a 60-foot chip for birdie on No. 18, which would have forced a playoff, that Delasin had sealed her second straight victory of the tournament. Her first came at Avalon Lakes Golf Course in Howland.

"I asked one of the ladies, 'Is it done?' " Delasin recalled.

When Delasin received the confirmation, she went outside to greet her caddie, Clint Begay.

"I was like, 'So did I win?' " Delasin said. "He's like, 'Yeah, you did.' I was like, 'All right!' "

Delasin edged Green by a stroke and Se Ri Pak by two strokes to claim the $150,000 prize.

"My season begins here in Vienna, Ohio," Delasin said. "I've played really well these past two years here. The fans out here are really supportive. It just makes me want to come back and be in this environment."

Delasin, 21, refers to herself as the "same old Dorothy, like any other 21-year-old."

"I have priorities that need to be taken care of," she said. "When I have time, I'll go walk around the mall or watch a movie."

A lot has happened

Like any other 21-year-old, Delasin has made important decisions in her life. She moved from South San Francisco, Calif., to Albuquerque, N.M., where her mentors -- Begay and his brother, PGA Tour golfer Notah Begay III, reside.

"A lot has happened in the past couple of months," she said. "I moved away from the nest so I can grow up and become my own woman. I saw it as college life with no school, because I didn't go to college."

With the Begay brothers guiding her, Delasin put more of an emphasis on physical training.

"I didn't want to work out because, well, I was lazy," said Delasin, who also didn't want to alter her swing by building the wrong muscle.

Her mentors were reassuring. Her trainers trusting.

"I've been training and working hard," Delasin said. "I don't get as tired as much, and I feel a lot stronger towards the end, not as fatigued. I feel great."

Delasin will be completely satisfied once she gets her desired results on the course.

"I've improved a lot," said Delasin, who has three victories in three years on tour, including the Samsung World Championship last year.

"It's been a slow start [she missed cuts in her first two tournaments this year], but once I get going, then I'll make a huge impact."

Begays have helped

Delasin said the Begays have helped with improving her course management.

"They're trying to make me understand how to see a golf course like a professional," she said.

Delasin already knows the pressure will be greater at this year's LPGA Classic as she tries to become the first golfer to win the tournament three straight times. Michelle McGann is the only other golfer to have won it in consecutive years (1995-96).

Because Delasin's first victory came at Avalon Lakes, there's still a sense of newness involved in trying to defend.

"It's kind of weird in a way because I defended when it was on a different course," Delasin said. "This is like my first time defending on the same course, so it's something new again. It's pretty cool."

Delasin hopes her success at the LPGA Classic will give her an advantage by having an even stronger fan base.

"Coming here and being amongst them is like a real thrill," she said. "I like the way I make the fans feel."

Still, it comes down to how Delasin performs on the course.

"It's a tough course," she said. "It's real traditional. The greens are hard. You just need to play well in order to win this event."

Winning has had an effect on Delasin -- in a good way. She has become more outgoing and less shy. She has adjusted to speaking in front of people.

And maybe the most important: "Knowing this is where I belong," she said.

richesson@vindy.com




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