Story No. 9 – Steen/Feng Duel in 5-Hole Playoff
Marissa Steen and Cindy Feng separated themselves even before the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay as two players that would contend for an LPGA Tour card.
Steen finished second at the first event of the year and Feng won the third event of the year. The Guardian Retirement Championship was the fifth event of the year.
I recall Steen had to make a birdie on the 18th just to get into the playoff. I think a lot of people were pulling for Steen because she fell just short in two long playoffs in previous years. She was without a win in her first two years, but had been on the cusp of victory twice.
Steen finally prevailed on the 5th playoff hole and was doused with water by her good friend and roommate Kim Kaufman along with a few others. When I interviewed her on the 18th green I remember that she repeated the phrase “Finally, I did it” probably five times. It was a major sense of relief – a “monkey off the back” type of win for her.
During the playoff, I remember Steen was incredibly focused. It was almost as if she had to win. Pressure was on Steen since Feng had won two weeks prior and had a second place finish locked away.
It was the start of a magical run for Steen who went onto to win three tournaments and took home Symetra Player of the Year honors. Feng also got her LPGA Tour card this year by finishing seventh on the Volvik Race for the Card money list.
Feng also had a strong year on Tour and proved that she could compete at the next level when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and finished in a tie for 13th.
In Steen’s Words…
I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to play a solid round on Sunday. I talked the night before with my caddie and we both decided that if I shot 69 (-3) on Sunday that I would have a good chance to win. I was not in the final group, there were no big crowds following my group so I felt very at ease the entire day. I turned at -1 and was really feeling locked into my round. I had all the confidence in the world heading to the back 9. I made par on holes 10-16, I birdied 17 and made a clutch 10-footer on 18 to post 69. I was nervous watching the rest of the groups finish but I was confident that I would have a chance to win in a playoff. Having been in two Symetra Tour playoffs before, I did not feel nervous when it was determined that Cindy and I would have to go to extra holes. I really felt that it was my time… I was hitting great shots all day, I knew it was going to come down to which one of us made the putt to seal the victory. Cindy and I both had multiple chances to win, but none of us could make a putt. When Cindy hit both her drive and her second shot into the left trees on the fifth playoff hole, it really fired me up and motivated me to end the playoff right there, deep down I knew it was my time. I hit my approach shot to about 3 feet but I knew my job was not done, it all came down to my putt. Even though I had missed my putt on the first four playoff holes, I felt particularly comfortable over that downhill 3 footer. When the putt dropped, it was a dream come true for me and I was speechless. All of the hard work and ups and downs I had been through in my golf career had FINALLY paid off – it was FINALLY my time. It was surreal for me for a few hours; it took a lot of time for me to realize exactly what I had accomplished but I was ecstatic to have gotten the win that I had worked for and wanted for so long.