BROCKTON, Mass., May 29, 2016 - Natalie Sheary (West Hartford, Connecticut) was in her comfort zone all week as her father was on the bag and she was in New England, just two hours from home. Sheary carded a 3-over 74 on Sunday and survived a late rally from Marissa Steen (West Chester, Ohio) to win the W.B. Mason Championship by one shot at 8-under, 205. Sheary closed with four pars to win her first career event in her 88th start.
Sheary moves from 34th to eighth with her first place check of $18,750. She has a new total of $28,325.
“It feels super cool,” said Sheary, who finished second in her second ever Symetra Tour event as an amateur in 2008, but hasn’t won since until now. “To have my parents here and to do it on the last hole, it couldn’t be anymore special than that.”
Sheary, who had a three shot lead entering the day, stumbled early with bogeys on holes one, three and six to drop to 9-under. Steen also made two bogeys on the front and the lead was two at the turn. Steen made birdies on 13 and 15 and Sheary bogeyed 15 and the two were tied at 8-under with three holes to play.
“She kept sticking it late and I was putting my driver in the rough,” said Sheary, who had to take an unplayable on 14. “I felt like I kept hitting a few fliers where my iron shots would be right over the pin, but they were rolling off the back. Three out of the last six holes, I had to get up-and-down from the back of the green.”
After both made par on 16, the momentum shifted for good on 17.
“Marissa hit a hybrid long and I knew I was going to take a 5-iron,” said Sheary, who was second to hit. “I hit an awesome shot to maybe 12-feet. I didn’t make the putt, but it was enough.”
Steen’s chip on the par-3 17th rolled about 5-feet past the pin and she missed the par putt. Steen putted first for birdie on 18 and made par and then Sheary two-putted for the win.
The journey to the top has been a long and sometimes difficult one for Sheary, but she has never wavered. She first played on the Symetra Tour as an amateur in 2007. In her second start, still as an amateur, she finished second at the 2008 CIGNA Golf Classic in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Until her win on Sunday, it remained her best finish on Tour. A total of 86 starts later, she has some hardware to show for the hard work.
“I played really well during my college years at Wake Forest and expected to do the same when I came out here after winning Q-School in 2010,” explained Sheary, who was the 2009 ACC Player of the Year and a 2011 All-American. “It didn’t really happen like I envisioned, but everything is worth waiting for and I finally have a win.”
Since turning professional in 2011, her best finish on Tour is 35th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, but she never once considered giving up on her career.
“I’m still out here because I love everyday,” said Sheary. “I love to travel, meeting all the great players, playing on great golf courses and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything different.”
Sheary has had her best year to date in 2016. She now has two top 10 finishes and five top 35 results.
“Last year I was injured a little bit,” said Sheary. “This year, I just know that all my practice is paying off and just believing that I can do it is making all the difference in the world.”
Sheary was excited to make the short drive home with her mom and dad after the win. She is the first player from Connecticut to win on the Symetra Tour since Liz Janangelo, who is from the same city, won twice in 2007.
“It is so great to have another New England event on our schedule so that all the other players are able to enjoy these great golf courses that I got to play as a youngster,” said Sheary. “I almost felt like I was playing on the course that I grew up on. Everything just reminded me of playing at home with my dad.”
Sheary will celebrate her 27th birthday on Monday.
Steen finished second at 7-under, 206 and moved into second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list at $38,765. Dana Finkelstein (Chadler, Ariz.) and Isi Gabsa (Tuebingen, Germany) both carded a 2-under 69 to share third place at 6-under, 207. Finkelstein is now 11th on the money list.