Saturday morning wasn't the ideal time to tee off a golf tournament. Every step wrung out the ground like a wet towel, and visibility was limited by rain. But the Land O' Lakes Legends Classic pressed on after a one-hour delay, and Juli Inkster pushed through for a victory.
Inkster, an LPGA Hall of Famer with seven major championships to her credit, shot a 5-under-par 67 Saturday and won by a stroke with a two-round total of 135.
The inaugural Legends Classic is the second stop on the LPGA Legends Tour, a professional tour for former LPGA players 45 and older. Inkster, 61, has six Legends Tour wins. Saturday's came with four birdies, an eagle and winnings of $24,500 from the $165,000 purse.
Christa Johnson (68 Saturday) and Rosie Jones (66) tied for second. Inskter and Jones had been neck-and-neck for much of the back nine, and Inkster said she didn't know how close Johnson had come. Michelle McGann, who led the field after Friday's first round, shot a 72 Saturday and tied for fifth.
Two golfers, fourth-place finisher Cathy Johnston-Forbes and Minnesota amateur Claudia Pilot, made holes-in-one on the 14th hole.
Legends Classic co-founder and competitor Michele Redman, formerly the women's golf coach at the University of Minnesota, said what makes the tournament unique is the "intimate atmosphere" and the level of access spectators have to the players.
"It's great to have some interaction, have some people out there supporting us and rooting for us," Inkster said. "It's nice to be remembered."
Even in the Saturday morning rain, dozens of golf fans brought their umbrellas and gathered at the Meadows at Mystic Lake in Prior Lake. There were fewer ropes or stakes than at the typical pro tournament, so fans were able to set up chairs right beside each tee box. That meant face time with the pros.
Eighteen-time LPGA winner Hollis Stacy thanked spectators for their "Minnesota hospitality" and noted that the state was in need of the rain. 2008 LPGA Corning Classic winner Leta Lindley said the same.
"We have a joke on the tour," Lindley told the fans before teeing off on the first hole. "If you're in a drought, invite the LPGA."
The tournament, which started with a pro-am Thursday, was headlined by Inkster, Stacy and fellow Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez. Lopez, 64, won 48 tour events and three majors and was the only woman to win LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average in the same season in 1978. Stacy, 67, is also a three-time major champion. Inskter won 31 times on the LPGA Tour.
Redman said the Legends Tour has a different atmosphere than the regular LPGA Tour. Specifically, athletes have more fun.
"We're still competitive against each other," Redman said. "But we'll go up and have some cocktails. We never did that when we played on the LPGA."
Redman said her goal is to make the Legends Classic an annual event in Minnesota.
"There's a lot of things that we want to do better, and keep getting better every year," she said, "but for the first year, I think we hit a home run."