For the second straight day, the Safeway International established a daily attendance record, eclipsing Saturday’s estimate of 39,400 by 300 fans. As a result, the all-time mark of 111,700 fans also was shattered with a mark set at 151,100 fans for the week.
“An amazing weekend,’’ said Tom Maletis, president of the Tournament Golf Foundation, which runs the event. “Especially with all the bad weather that plagued the first two days of the tournament.
“We really bounced back.’’
That almost seemed like an understatement, but as good as it was, Maletis said it will only get better as “our future is so bright at Superstition Mountain.’’
This was the last year of a three-year contract between the event and the golf club. But Maletis said he fully expects the Safeway International to return to the East Valley next year, “and hopefully for as long as we can be here.’’
“We’re going to sit down with Lyle Anderson and the Superstition Mountain people in the very near future and work on an extension,’’ Maletis said. “We want it, they want it, and the LPGA and the players want it.’’
‘VERY HAPPY’ ENDING
Taylore Karle, the 16-yearold amateur from Scottsdale, made a nice move up the leaderboard with a 71 that got her to 5 over and a tie for 53rd place.
“Very happy,’’ Karle said of her finish, which had she been a pro would have earned $4,552.
Paraguay’s Julieta Granada recorded the tournament’s only hole-in-one for the week. Her 6-iron from 168 yards found the cup at the 17th hole in the final round.
It was the second ace for the 20-year-old pro from Paraguay, who closed with a 69 to end up at 4 under. The “1” helped Granada jump into the top 20.
It never happened for Annika Sorenstam on Sunday, or for any of her other three rounds, for that matter.
As Sorenstam put it, “I’m right over the pin (with her approach shots), and that’s a positive. But sometimes the score doesn’t always say it.’’
Even though she birdied three of the last six holes, the world’s No. 1 player could only coax out a 1-under-par 71, ending up at 7 under and in a tie for eighth place.
“I feel great about my game,’’ she said in the aftermath. “It wasn’t enough, and I needed a lot more.
“But I’m excited about next week.’’
Next week, of course, is the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA’s first major. And for the first time in a long time, Sorenstam won’t be the favorite. That honor goes to the Safeway International champ, Lorena Ochoa.
POWER OF PINK
Paula Creamer, who finished with a 70 and a tie for 10th place, played a pink golf ball during the final round — a tradition for Creamer.
At least a dozen kids, most clad in pink, pleaded for the pink ball following the round, while a line that extended more than 100 yards long waited patiently for her autograph.
Traffic snarls that had been predicted earlier this week finally came to fruition on Sunday, when cars backed up on U.S. 60 for anywhere from 10 to 20 miles.
At one point, the congestion completely stopped traffic for about 10 minutes as DPS officers arrested three people about a half mile from the entrance of Superstition Mountain.
Mike Nichols, the vice president of tournament business affairs for the LPGA, said there are no plans to change the LPGA’s four major championships.
Reacting to a news story in Saturday’s Tribune speculating on the Safeway International being a major championship candidate, Nichols said the organizers, the Tournament Golf Foundation, and the host, Superstition Mountain, “have partnered to create a tournament experience that is recognized by the players as one of the best on tour.’’
“But there have not been any discussions about changing the current slate of our four major championships,” Nichols said.