Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club
February 23, 2014
Final Round News and Notes
Alena Sharp strung together three strong rounds including a final-round, 1-under-par 71 to finish at 12-under-par and claim her first career Symetra Tour victory at the second annual Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club..
Marissa Steen shot a final-round, 4-under 68 to finish two strokes behind Sharp in second place at 10-under for the weekend. Emily Talley, Becca Huffer, Sadena Parks and Jennie Lee finished three shots off the pace in a tie for third at 9-under-par.
“It feels amazing, I’ve worked really hard the last five months and I’ve finished second a lot on this tour and this is my first win.” said Sharp. “It feels really good, I struck the ball well all week, putted well and hung in there.”
Sharp came back to the field early in her round. After a birdie on the first, the 32-year-old made three consecutive bogeys to fall to 9-under for the tournament. She ironed out the issues toward the end of the front nine with back-to-back birdies to move back to 11-under-par, three shots in front of Lee at the turn.
“It was a little bit of a grind today, but I used my mental toughness and training to get through it and I’m happy that I’m holding the trophy,” said Sharp.
Sharp held a three-stroke lead over Lee heading into the final day and never relinquished control. Although she led from start to finish, Sharp was challenged. The current resident of Arizona finished with a flourish, making birdie on the final hole to close out the championship.
“I just felt like the weight has come off my shoulders,” said Sharpe. “I was kind of nervous even though it was a short putt, so I tried to block everything out and focus on getting the ball in the whole and it just feels amazing right now.”
Sharp’s next event will be the LPGA Founder’s Cup in Phoenix, which takes place March 20-23.
“This is a big confidence boost, I played well in the Bahamas and missed the cut in Australia so I was a little bit down coming into this week,” said Sharp. “These three days have brought me back up and now I have a month off until the next tournament, the LPGA Founder’s Cup, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Sharp’s best round of the weekend was her second round on Saturday when she fired a 6-under-par 66. She shot a 5-under-par 67 in round one. For the weekend, Sharpe made a total of 19 birdies.
There were 20 players who shot 3-under-par or better for the weekend including Cheyenne Woods, who had a 71 in the final round to finish in a tie for 14th at 3-under-par.
Steen birdied five of her final 11 holes including the 18th to finish in sole possession of second place at 10-under.
The Visit Mesa sponsor invite, Becca Huffer, completed her surprising yet magnificent run with a 4-under-par 68 on the final day to finish in a tie for third.
“I thought I played well today and gave myself some birdie opportunities again,” said Huffer. “It was awesome to get to play in the event and play the way I know I can play out here and have everyone out here supporting me.”
In front of friends and family members, Huffer eagled the ninth hole and made four birdies on the day. She hopes to play in more Symetra Tour events following the reshuffle after the sixth event of the year.
“I was hoping to play good this week and being near the top is nice to see,” said Huffer. “My hard work on the Cactus Tour and in practice rounds has been validated and I look forward to being back on the Symetra Tour later in the year.”
Since Sharp is not a full-time member of the Symetra Tour, Marissa Steen will head into the second event with the No. 1 spot in the Volvik Race for the Card. Emily Talley, Sadena Parks, Jennie Lee and Becca Huffer are in a four-way tie for second on the money list.
Sara Brown, who shot a 3-under 69 in the final round, is tied with Margarita Ramos for seventh on the money list.
Lee Lopez and Lindy Duncan, who both shot 4-under-par in the final round, are ninth and tenth on the money list respectively.
TIFOSI OPTICS LOW SUNDAY ROUND: Emily Talley, who won Big Break NFL with teammate Jerry Rice, shot a tournament-best 7-under 65 in the final round of the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club and finished in a tie for third place at 9-under-par for the tournament.
She is the recipient of a pair of Tifosi Optics sunglasses for having the low round on Sunday. After each week, Tifosi Optics, the exclusive sunglasses of the Symetra Tour, will provide a pair of sunglasses to the player that shoots the low round on Sunday.
Talley started the day tied for 15th at 2-under. The former University of Colorado golfer made three pars and a bogey on her first four holes before finding a groove. She birdied the fifth and seventh holes and eagled the ninth to make the turn at 5-under for the tournament.
“I felt really good, I’ve been told not to try to win the tournament on the first hole and I think this is the first time I actually listened to that,” said Talley. “I started sticking it, then I started making putts and then I made eagle on number nine.”
Talley, a second-year professional on the Symetra Tour, continued her strong play on the back nine. She made three more birdies and steered bogey-free on the back nine.
“I focused all three days, I never turned it off and felt like I was constantly in the moment,” said Talley. “Today was just out of this world, I don’t know where it came from but it was just awesome.”
Talley had just one top-10 finish on the Symetra Tour last year when she tied for ninth at the Volvik Championship.
“This was my lowest round in competition that I’ve ever shot,” said Talley. “I’ve had to overcome a lot of nerves and last year was really good for me, but this really showed that maybe I’m going up still and I can’t wait to see what happens.”
A LOOK AHEAD: The second event on the Symetra Tour schedule is the Volvik Championship at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms Resort (Eisenhower Course), which will begin on Friday, Feb. 28 with round one.
One of the local players in the field is Stephanie Kono, who lives in Irvine, Calif. and played college golf at UCLA.
“I’m really excited, I played the course a few times for the Open qualifier,” said Kono. “It’s really nice to be able to sleep at home in my own bed and go play a tournament.”
Kono has very good memories playing Pacific Palms Resort.
“I have some good memories, I qualified for the Open twice on that course,” said Kono. “It’s a pretty hilly course so you just have to manage your energy and the greens can be a bit tricky.”
Kono earned First-Team All-America honors from the NGCA and First Team Pac-10 honors following the 2010-11 season.