By TODD BOYD / The Dallas Morning News
(reprinted with permission from DallasNews.com/WFAA.com)
GARLAND - The list of repeat champions of the Texas Women's Open numbered two before Thursday - golf legends Babe Zaharias and Betsy Rawls. Add one more.
Tara Bateman of Phoenix took home $1,800 after overcoming a first-day two-stroke deficit to Kelly Holland of Carrollton to capture her second consecutive title on Thursday at Eastern Hills Country Club. Bateman won the tournament last year as an amateur.
"This is a dream come to true to be on the same list as Babe Zaharias," said Bateman, who made a birdie on No. 18 to clinch the win. "I always looked up to her when I was a kid. She would be one of the players in my dream foursome."
Zaharias won the tournament in 1951-52, Rawls in 1953-54.
Bateman, who finished with rounds of 70 and 69 for a 1-under 139 total, took a one-stroke lead to the 17th hole but flew the par-3 green with her tee shot. The ball landed on the other side of the cart path, prompting quite an exchange between Bateman and her caddie, Kelli McKandless.
"We were fighting over the shot. I love my lob wedge, but it isn't always the best shot," Bateman said. "She wanted me to play the safe shot."
In the end, Bateman listened to her caddie and punched a low shot to the front of the green. She then two-putted for bogey, falling into a tie with Kristin Dufour of Austin, who was teeing off at No. 18.
Dufour was on the green in two, but lipped out her birdie chip from the back fringe and settled for par.
"It looked good and felt good, but just went a little right," Dufour said. "I felt like it was a struggle out there, especially with my shorter putts."
Dufour, who recently turned pro after graduating from Texas, was the only competitor to finish at even par after shooting a pair of 70s to collect $1,200.
Then, after two days of struggling with her new putting stroke, Bateman drained a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th to give her the championship by one stroke.
"I guess my coach was right in changing it," Bateman said.
This year's victory is Bateman's first in four professional tournaments since gradating in May from Baylor.