Visit Mesa Gateway Classic
February 22, 2014
Second Round News and Notes
Alena Sharp shot a 6-under-par 66 in round two of the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club and bolted past the competition to grab a three-stroke lead heading into the final round on Sunday, Feb. 23. Sharp has sole possession of the lead at 11-under-par after 36 holes of play.
The 32-year-old, who finished second at last year’s event, birdied the first two holes of the day to gain momentum early.
“I started off with two birdies and I only had one bad swing all day and made a double on that hole,” said Sharp. “I just played really consistent, hit a lot of greens and started rolling putts in on the back nine and just felt really calm and relaxed.”
Sharp birdied four of her final six holes including the 18th to move to 11-under for the tournament.
“I just played, no mechanical flaws, just got into the target and hit ball, went on the green and made the putt, it was really easy.” said Sharp. “I didn’t think about much.”
Sharp, who finished ninth on the Symetra Tour money list last year to regain her LPGA Tour card for the 2014 season, is very comfortable with her surroundings.
“I like this golf course, I played well here last year and I read the greens well,” said Sharp. “The weather has been perfect so tomorrow is going to be fun.”
On Olympic Colors Day, Sharp wore red to represent her home country, Canada.
“It’s amazing watching the hockey teams win and they’ve done really well this year with more medals than last year,” said Sharp, who plays hockey herself. “I’ve been trying to watch the hockey, but it’s just hard with the time change, but I DVR a lot of them and watch at night.”
Sharp actually has a recreation league hockey game Sunday night in nearby Chandler, Ariz. She may be putting on the pads as the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Classic champion.
Close behind Sharp is Jennie Lee, who fired a 3-under par 69 and sits three shots back at 8-under for the tournament.
“I started off pretty well, pretty steady but just had a bit of a rough stretch coming in,” said Lee. “I had to save par coming in.”
Lee tallied a bogey-free round on Friday and had just one bogey on Saturday. Lee’s second round included four birdies.
“Obviously, we have one more round left and I’m hitting the ball well and I just have to get a few more putts to drop,” Lee said.
Marissa Steen shot a 6-under 66, which included seven birdies, to skyrocket from T41 after day one to third place heading into the final round at 6-under par.
Steen finished 16th on the Symetra Tour money list last season with four top-10 finishes.
Six players are currently tied for fourth at five under par for the tournament.
Of the 120 players in the field, 78 of them made the cut, which fell at 4-over-par 148.
SPONSOR INVITE HUFFER MAKING NOISE: Thanks to Visit Mesa, the title sponsor of the tournament, Becca Huffer got a chance to compete this week and is making the most of it.
Huffer, who started the day at 2-under par, made four birdies on the front nine to vault from T13 into fourth place. Huffer is one of five players tied for fourth at 5-under-par, six strokes off the lead.
“It was a fun round, especially after a hotter start today on the front nine so that was good,” said Huffer. “I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies and got some in there, so it was a pretty good round and a good finish to end with a birdie.”
On the back nine, Huffer made two bogeys before ending on a positive note with a birdie at 18.
“It’s just been a lot of fun all week with a lot of people out watching me, I couldn’t ask for more” said Huffer. “There aren’t many tournaments where my friends and family get to watch me play, so it’s great to have them out there and play well.”
Huffer moved to Arizona a year ago and works and practices at Longbow Golf Club. She works in player services at the course.
She found a rhythm towards the end of her first nine, making birdie on three of the final four holes.
On the back nine, Woods made four more birdies for a total of seven for the round.
“Today, I made a lot more putts than yesterday and I felt like I gave myself more opportunities,” said Woods. “I had seven birdies and two bogeys so I was making a lot of shots and that was the biggest difference.”
Woods was pleased with her course management in her second round.
“Yesterday I felt sloppy while today my game was a lot cleaner,” said Woods. “It was a pretty clean round, I didn’t make many mistakes and course management was good.”
Although it will be tough to catch the leaders, Woods is aiming to get as close as possible on Sunday.
“I can definitely get my name up on the leaderboard,” said Woods. “The goal is to get my name up on the leaderboard.”
JOANNA COE MAKES PUSH TOWARDS TOP: The Mays Landing, N.J. native wanted revenge on this golf course. Last year, at the inaugural Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club, Joanna Coe shot an 82 on day one and an 80 on day two and subsequently missed the cut.
Today, she made six birdies and shot a 3-under 69 to move into a tie for fourth place at 5-under-par. Coe started the day in a 12-way tie for 13th place. She ends the day in a crowd of five tied for fourth place at 5-under.
“The front nine was super easy, I hit it great, I putted it great,” said Coe. “I got some revenge on this course, I played like absolute crap here last year and it was nice to come out and play two really good rounds and get some revenge.”
Coe, who is a travel partner this week with fellow contender Sara-Maude Juneau, made four birdies on the front nine. She had a few “adventures” on the back nine, but danced out of trouble with a one-over par back nine.
“I went on a little adventure on the last two holes; I hit it in the left desert, took an unplayable, one putted and I was in the desert again on 18 and even scratched my arm.” said Coe. “I made a par so I’m just happy to get out of here.”
Coe, who had just one top-10 finish last year, is excited to be near the top.
“It’s a good feeling (to be near top), it’s what I work for in the off-season.” said Coe. “I need to put together one more good round to make this even sweeter.”
Born and raised in the north, Coe now lives in Orlando, Fla. and works part-time at Falcons Fire in Kissimmee, Fla. where she practices.
43-YEAR-OLD JERAY SHOOTS 2-UNDER: LPGA Tour member Nicole Jeray shot a 2-under 70 in round two of the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club. The 43-year-old veteran had four birdies on the round.
“I actually played really good yesterday, but I messed up on the last three holes coming in; if you’re not careful you can make a big number,” said Jeray. “It played hard today because it was so cold this morning, I didn’t take my layers off until the 13th hole, but I putted well.”
Jeray lives in Augusta, Ga. during the off season and couldn’t get out much during the unseasonable winter in the southeast.
“I haven’t seen green grass since December so this (Longbow Golf Club) is really nice,” said Jeray. “I’m rusty so I’m pleased with how I am playing and this golf course is just beautiful, I love this golf course.”
Jeray, who will need to put up a low number on Sunday to contend, says she will be aggressive.
“I’ll probably be more aggressive tomorrow because you have to finish near the top to make good money,” said Jeray. “I’m going to really try to hit the ball close to the hole and be more aggressive with my putts.”
Jeray was the first alternate at the first two LPGA events of the year, the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic and the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The next LPGA event that she is in the field for is the LPGA Founders Cup, which will be held at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix.
Jeray, whose rookie year on the Symetra Tour was 1993, is impressed with the maturity and skill of the young talent on the Symetra Tour.
“I was telling the girls in my group how different it used to be out there, it is so much more professional now and the competition is just night and day from what it used to be,” said Jeray. “It used to be that 20 girls could win the tournament and now there are 150 girls that could win the tournament.”
The LPGA veteran says she doesn’t feel out of place, most of the time.
“The girls are so mature, I don’t feel like I’m this old mature person,” said Jeray. “I know I look out of place sometimes, people will ask me if I’m a mom and I’ll say ‘no I’m one of the players’.”
- Defending Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Country Club champion, Jaclyn Sweeney, withdrew from the tournament midway through the second round due to back spasms.
- Big Break Florida cast member Sadena Parks shot an even-par 72 and is 5-under for the tournament in a five-way tie for fourth place.
- After starting the tournament with a 2-over-par 74 on Friday, Brittany Benvenuto shot a six-under par 66 to move into tenth place at four-under.