For Dottie Mochrie, the Tournament of Champions came down to her own tournament of heroes.
Paired with the idols of her youth who distance her by a decade _ Nancy Lopez and Betsy King _ Mochrie emerged from Saturday's final round championing the new guard of women's golf.
With typical intensity and little talking to her mentors, Mochrie shot 3-under-par 69 at Grand Cypress Resort, leaving her 1-under (72-75-71-69) in the inaugural tournament. Lopez finished just two shots back, tied for second with U.S. Open champion Lauri Merten. King ended up tied for sixth place after a round of 76 that delayed her entry into the Hall of Fame.
"This is the best field you can put together," Mochrie said after her first victory of the season, which earned her $115,000. "You had the greatest names in golf. I consider myself pretty fortunate to have been here."
Fortunate? She was, after all, the 1992 Player of the Year who won four tournaments that year and two in '93. Still, she was most thrilled to be paired with Lopez and King on the last day. "Growing up, Lopez and (Jack) Nicklaus were my heroes like every kid, but once I got to know Betsy going through Furman, she was my hero.
"I was really pulling for Betsy for the Hall of Fame. I was playing with Pat Bradley when she qualified and I cried so hard," Mochrie recalled.She hugged King after her round and shook Lopez's hand before going off to accept her trophy.
"Dottie really played well," Lopez said. "The difference in today is that I had to have a little bit of luck."
Mochrie earned her most recent honor Saturday with more than just fortune. She had built such a sizable lead _ four strokes _ that even three bogeys in the last six holes failed to stop her.
Mochrie needed two lucky bounces plus a perfect swing to execute the shot that set the tone for the round. (It was a round that featured brilliant sunshine, no wind and thus, 22 sub-par scores.)
Trailing Lopez by two strokes to start the day, Mochrie scored an eagle on the par-4, 339-yard first hole. After her drive, she hit an 8-iron 122 yards and the ball took two hops and went in.
"I just flushed it _ it was pretty neat," Mochrie said. "You kind of get tingles about that and I had to step back and realize that I was 2-under but there were 17 holes to go. I had to really harness things in and forget that it happened."
Mochrie's concentration was as steady as her ball, at least through the first 12 holes. She followed her first-hole feat with a birdie on par-5 No. 2, knocking in a 6-foot putt. And on the par-3 eighth hole, Mochrie hit the 8-iron, leaving herself a five-foot birdie putt.
"My goal coming into today was to finish the tournament under par and just play solid golf," Mochrie said. "If somebody else gets hot, there's nothing I can do about it."
Nobody but Mochrie could retain heat, though. Lopez birdied the par-4 fifth hole, then lost the stroke at 10. Despite a birdie at 13, Lopez finished with two bogeys to end her round. Mochrie also made two bogeys on 17 and 18, but she had built a substantial enough lead to save her victory.
Lopez had a birdie opportunity at 16 and could have pulled within one, after Mochrie dropped to 3-under the hole before. But Lopez missed left. "You can never give up. Two shots on this course is not a lot," Lopez said.
Knowing she had to make up the difference, Lopez got more aggressive, shooting for the pin at the par-3 17th and landing in the bunker. Like everyone else in her threesome, Lopez missed her par putt when the ball broke sharply to the left.
There was little drama left for 18. Both Lopez and Mochrie hit into the bunker off the tee and limped to the green for bogeys. "It wasn't pretty, but I did what I had to do," Mochrie said.
While Lopez wasn't able to string birdies together, other players too seemed to fizzle on the back nine. Merten trailed Mochrie by two shots at 13 when she felt faint and her "legs seemed to give out." She got a soda and food after 15, but by then she lost two strokes and couldn't recover.
Long-hitting Laura Davies also had a glimmer of hope dashed when she had two double bogeys and a bogey on the back nine. That offset her hole-in-one _ the only ace of the tournament _ on No.
8, when she used her pitching wedge to knock the ball 134 yards into the hole.
record, keeps lead
OJAI, Calif. _ Jim Colbert broke his own PGA Senior Tour 36-hole record by shooting 6-under-par 64, giving him a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Seniors GTE West Classic.
On the heels of his 62 in Friday's first round, Colbert had a 36-hole total of 126 at the par-70 Ojai Valley Inn and Country Club course. Colbert shared the previous 36-hole record of 127 with Bruce Crampton and Gibby Gilbert.
The only player who may be in range to catch Colbert today is Tom Wargo, who stood at 130 after matching Colbert's 64.
"You tell me I set a new record, then how come tomorrow I don't have a walk in the park?" joked Colbert, whose 62 in the first round tied the course record. "These guys won't let you alone."
After starting the cool and drizzly day with a bogey on the first hole, he rebounded with five birdies on the front nine, including 20-foot birdie putts on the seventh and ninth holes. Colbert, the 1991 Senior Tour rookie of the Year, added birdies on the 10th and 16th holes.
Meanwhile, Gene Littler won the two-round Vantage Classics tournament for players over 60. Littler followed his opening-round 65 with a 70, giving him 135 total.
_ The Associated Press contributed to this report.