Friday, June 16, 2000

Met finalists both win on 18th


Two golfers eliminate past champions

By Carey Hoffman
Enquirer contributor

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Katie Rakel
(Gary Landers photo)
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Bernice Gallagher
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Today's finals of the Women's Met at O'Bannon Creek will see history either made or rewritten.

        It's a certainty 2000 will produce a first-time Met champ. But will it be 20-year-old Katie Rakel, a first-time finalist, or 49-year-old Bernice Gallagher, a fixture in the event for 20 years and the 1990 Met runner-up?

        Those two advanced out of Thursday's dramatic semifinal matches. Both matches ended in the rain on the 18th green, with each golfer dispatching a past Met champion.

        Rakel came first, ousting defending champ Darcy Isaac 1-up. In a match where neither player ever had larger than a one-hole edge, Rakel won consecutive holes at 13 and 14 to tie and then retake the lead, then held on with critical pars in the rain on 17 and 18.

        “I was much more stressed out today than I even think I'll be (for the finals), because I was playing the previous champion,” said Rakel, a junior at UC.

        Isaac showed the mettle of a champion when, facing elimination, she rammed in a 10-foot putt at 17 to stay alive. Both players took par on the 18th, and Rakel was headed to the finals.

        Gallagher's match with two-time Met champion Lynn Thompson, an O'Bannon Creek member, was similarly tight.

        Tied after 17, the two veterans came to the 18th tee. Gallagher went first and hit her tee shot right over the stick 20 feet past the hole. Thompson appeared to have the edge when she knocked her approach to about 18 feet left of the hole, making Gallagher putt first.

        But Gallagher, who has struggled with O'Bannon's greens all week, came within two inches of making her downhill putt.

        Thompson's putt went by on the left and went about three feet past. Her comeback putt lipped out, giving Gallagher the victory 1-up.

        Today's 10 a.m. championship match is difficult to handicap with two players who don't have a record against each other. Rakel has a considerable edge in length, Gallagher the same kind of advantage in experience.

        “I haven't ever played an older player this far along in a tournament,” Rakel said. “I may have an edge early because I hit the ball farther, but she's going to have an edge with her experience, especially playing in front of a crowd.”

Women's Met results, tee times
Local golf coverage at Cincinnati.com/golf
U.S. Open coverage from Associated Press



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