Beatriz Recari isn’t so bold as to place herself among the greatest LPGA Tour players.
Instead, she hopes to continue plugging along and let the record book do the talking for her.
The 26-year-old Spaniard took the lead at the 14th hole and then made two more mammoth putts down the stretch to hold off Paula Creamer in a tense, one-on-one duel to win the Marathon Classic on Sunday.
It was her second win of the year and third of her young career. It was also a sign that she might be the best player nobody knows on the Tour.
”I have goals big enough that I want to accomplish,” she said, still flushed from the victory. ”There are great players out there, like Se Ri (Pak), Annika (Sorenstam), like Inbee (Park). All I want to focus on is to be the best I can be. I cannot control what other people think about me. All I can do is put a good score out there, get those wins and the wins speak for themselves.”
Recari and Creamer started the day tied and spent most of the day trading the lead – as if it were match play. The head-to-head showdown in the heat in suburban Toledo might have been foreshadowing for when both players participate in next month’s Solheim Cup at the Colorado Golf Club, Recari for the European side and Creamer for the United States.
”Back and forth, back and forth,” Recari said of their Sunday showdown. ”It totally felt like the Solheim Cup.”
Recari closed with a 5-under 66 to finish at 17-under 267. Creamer, who was seeking her 10th career win and first since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open, was just a stroke back. She said she gave it everything she had.
”My goodness, there were so many great shots played today,” Creamer said. ”Do I wish I could go back and maybe change a couple of things here and there? Yes. But I played great. Beatriz just played one shot better.”
Jodi Ewart Shadoff (66) shared third place at 13 under with Lexi Thompson, who shot a 67 and had a hole-in-one that won the 18-year-old a car.
Next came Angela Stanford (67) and Jacqui Cocolino (70) at 19 under. Meena Lee had the day’s low round, a 62, and was with amateur sensation Lydia Ko (68), Toledo-born Stacy Lewis (64), Jennifer Johnson (66) and Chie Arimura (71) at 9 under.
But all of the focus on this day was on the co-leaders at the start.
Creamer took the lead twice with birdies – on the third and fifth holes – and each time Recari came right back with a birdie on the next hole. At the seventh, Creamer hit her approach to 6 feet. But before she could make her putt, Recari rolled in a 15-footer for birdie.
Still tied, there were a lot of fireworks on the 181-yard, par-3 14th. Recari hit her hybrid to 12 feet and Creamer’s shot ended up 25 feet away. The third member of their group, Thompson, the budding American star-in-the-making, then holed her 6-iron to win a new car. She slapped high fives with her caddie then happily accepted congratulations from everyone along the rope line all the way to the green.
After Creamer almost rolled in her lengthy birdie putt, Recari took the lead for good with a birdie of her own.
Creamer’s wedge to the green at the par-4 16th left her just 3 feet away, but Recari sank a 25-foot uphill birdie putt to negate Creamer’s eventual 3 on the hole.
”I had a really good read,” Recari said. ”I stroked it and the hole got in the way.”
The drama continued at the 17th, the first of back-to-back par-5 closing holes.
Creamer laid up with a wedge. Recari then pulled out a hybrid and uncharacteristically went for the green, pulling it slightly to the left where it ended up in the rough. Creamer’s wedge ended up 12 feet away and Recari skied a flop shot that ended up half that distance from the hole. Both missed their putts, however.
”In all that golf out there, it’s kind of funny how it all comes down to the wire,” Creamer said.
At the par-5 closing hole, both misfired on their third shots, Creamer’s running through to the fringe and Recari’s flying over the green to light rough.
Recari chipped to 5 feet past the hole before Creamer missed her 20-foot attempt to tie it.
With the tournament on the line, Recari then stroked in her par putt for her second victory of the season. In March, she won the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., beating I.K. Kim with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff.
”I was definitely shaky on the last putt,” she said. ”I knew I had to make it to win and avoid a playoff. A playoff is always nerve-racking.”