KONO HOLDS ON FOR DONALD ROSS CLASSIC TITLE
FRENCH LICK, Ind. — This moment was a long time coming for Stephanie Kono (Honolulu, Hawaii), who shed a few tears after a final round 3-under par 68 secured her first professional victory at the second annual Donald Ross Classic.
The former three-time First Team All-American performer for UCLA walked off No. 18 of the Donald Ross Course at 11-under par overall, good enough for a one shot win.
“It’s amazing and I still can’t believe I did that,” said Kono, who recorded five birdies and two bogeys this afternoon. “Such a great feeling and I’m so grateful. I was out for a while last year and just had some bad times. I’ve had such a good group of people around me that kept me believing. This is unreal, but I’m so thankful.”
Since turning pro in 2012, Kono has battled a string of back injuries that have sidelined her for months on end. Naturally, her mind channeled some negative thoughts, but the perseverance she demonstrated would not be outdone.
“It hasn’t really been easy for me since then and to be honest, I kind of doubted if this would ever happen,” Kono said. “I didn’t want that to be the end of my career and I didn’t want that to hold me back from doing what I knew I could. This is just so rewarding for me because six months ago I was sitting down and not able to move. That was the third time that happened. I can’t believe I did this six months later.”
Now a first-time champion on the Symetra Tour, Kono joins Valley Forge Invitational champion Louise Ridderstrom (Stocksund, Sweden) as the second UCLA women’s golf alumna to find the winner’s circle in 2018.
“I was pretty nervous before I started the round, but once I started I was actually pretty strangely calm,” said Kono. “I started the day believing I could do it and I kept that belief the entire round.”
Coming in just behind Kono was Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) and Karen Chung (Livingston, New Jersey). The duo tied for second at 10-under par overall and earned $18,258 apiece.
With the outcome, Ardina jumps to the No. 1 position in the Volvik Race for the Card.
“Entering the day four shots out of the lead and shooting 6-under to be the clubhouse leader for a while felt great,” said Ardina, who signed a bogey-free final round scorecard. “To maintain my status in the top-10, I knew I had to have a good showing this week with the purse being the biggest all season. Being No. 1 in the Volvik Race is where I wanted to be after making the decision to stay on the Symetra Tour full-time the rest of the year.”
For Chung, the result is a career-best and her third top-10 finish this season.
“I’m super happy about this week because these past couple of weeks I wasn’t shooting low enough scores consistently to keep my position,” said Chung, who carded five birdies, three bogeys and an eagle today. “I feel like my putting is slowly coming along and even more so this week, helping me feel more comfortable going into the second half of the season. I’m super excited for the next few weeks, especially.”
Tomorrow will serve as a travel day for players with the four-day Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic in Rochester, N.Y., the next stop from July 19-22.
VOLVIK RACE FOR THE CARD STANDINGS
Following the 11th tournament of the 2018 Symetra Tour season, which also served as the “flagship” event for the Tour, the Volvik Race for the Card saw a good amount of shifting within the top-10.
The win and $33,750 winner’s check launched Stephanie Kono a whopping 79 spots up the rankings to No. 6, having earned $38,388 through nine starts. Here is a look at the current top-10 heading into the Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic:
- Dottie Ardina - $58,563
- Jenny Haglund (Karlstad, Sweden) - $49,751
- Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany) - $46,512
- Ruixin Liu (Dalian, China) - $40,175
- Elizabeth Szokol (Winnetka, Illinois) - $38,869
- Stephanie Kono - $38,388
- Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) - $38,307
- Karen Chung - $36,661
- Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Florida) - $34,007
- Pajaree Anannarukarn (Bangkok, Thailand) - $33,067
YADA IN PORTLAND STATE ATHLETICS 2018 HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CLASS
The Portland State University athletic department recently announced its 2018 Hall of Fame induction class featuring two NCAA Division II National Championship Runner-Up football teams and six individuals, including Symetra Tour professional Britney Yada (Hilo, Hawaii).
Back in early May when Yada was competing in the IOA Invitational at Atlanta National Golf Club in Milton, Ga., she received a phone call from Valeria Cleary, the PSU Director of Athletics. It was one she’ll never forget.
“I never thought in a million years and it still hasn’t really hit me,” said Yada, the Vikings first and only four-time All-Big Sky Conference selection. “She was so excited and I was like this is crazy. When you’re there you go practice, play. I never dreamed I would be in the Hall of Fame.”
During her collegiate career from 2009-2013, Yada captured two individual titles, including the 2011 Big Sky Championship. By the time she left PSU, the fourth year pro owned virtually every school record, from career rounds (122) to scoring average (76.10).
The Hall of Fame class will be recognized at an induction ceremony during Homecoming weekend from Oct. 11-13. It will coincide with the completion of the new Beetham Family Athletics Hall of Fame being installed in the Viking Pavilion at the Peter W. Stott Center.
“It’s humbling and makes me realize that people are proud of you, no matter what,” Yada said. “There’s more to life than just golf and I don’t know why it makes me think that, it’s kind of what I’m getting. It’s so special and I don’t really know how to put it into words quite yet.”
Yada went 3-over par in today’s Donald Ross Classic final round to finish in a tie for 46th at 2-over par overall. She’ll now make the greater than 650-mile trek to Brook-Lea Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., for the fourth annual Danielle Downey Credit Union Classic from July 19-22.
STEPHANIE KONO'S FINAL ROUND INTERVIEW