CHENG LEADS BY ONE ENTERING FINAL ROUND
HARRIS, Mich. — On a moving day when numbers weren’t flashy, Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) recorded the best second round score of 6-under par 66 to claim the Island Resort Championship 36-hole outright lead at 9-under overall.
“I think my second shot was really good, and then my putting,” said Cheng. “Driving was good, I hit basically every fairway. Everything was great today.”
So great in fact that Cheng signed a bogey-free scorecard to complete the round of the day. She looks to continue the strong play in tomorrow’s final pairing.
“I feel excited, it has been a long time for me to play in the last couple groups on Sunday,” said Cheng, who also turned in her season-best score with today’s performance. “For this golf course, I don’t think it’s long, but for second shot it’s super important. If you’re on the wrong side of the green, you have no chance to putt. That will be key for tomorrow too, just hitting on the right side of the green, stay patient.”
Cheng will be joined by 18-hole leader Esther Lee (Los Alamitos, California) at 12:30 p.m. ET in the last group off No. 1 tee for the final round. Lee battled to a 1-under par score this afternoon, which included five birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.
She heads into the final day at 8-under par overall, one shot back of Cheng.
“I thought a lot of the pins today were either tucked behind bunkers, or close to the fringe with not a lot of room to work with,” said Lee. “The wind did pick up a little bit and I thought that the course was still playable, it was just my approach shots were not that consistent so I struggled with that.”
Meanwhile, in the penultimate group is Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany), last week’s winner at the Forsyth Classic. Just two shots back, she is aiming to become the first two-time champion on the Symetra Tour this season.
The former two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series recorded five birdies and only one bogey today en route to a 4-under par 68. She sits in a tie for third at 7-under overall.
“I actually prefer to be behind and to not in the leading group. Last week it was more surprising, normally I’m the one playing behind,” Gabsa said. “Sticking to my game, just being relaxed and calm, patient for my birdies. I would say the drive is a little bit more important than last week because the rough is pretty thick. If you hit it in the rough and have downwind, it’s really hard to stay on the green.”
As for the gameplan tomorrow, it might come down to a big decision on the final hole.
“For No. 18 today, I feel like I hit the wrong layup, so I had really weird third shot into the green,” said Cheng. “There’s a few other par-5s, a few layups I really have to pay attention on.”
A total of 61 players made the cut of 1-under par at Sweetgrass Golf Club. Final round action begins at 7:30 a.m. ET tomorrow with all play off No. 1 tee.
FINKELSTEIN RECORDS HOLE-IN-ONE
It was just a matter of time before the first hole-in-one for the 8th annual Island Resort Championship fell at Sweetgrass Golf Club and the honors belong to Dana Finkelstein (Chandler, Arizona).
The former University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) standout knocked in the ace on No. 12 with a 6-iron from 168 yards.
“I didn’t see it go in, but knew it was a good shot,” Finkelstein said. “It went right at it. The shadow of the hole was covering and we got up there, didn’t see anything. So walked up and saw it at the bottom of the cup.”
Lightning struck one other time in the career of the winningest golfer in UNLV history, but it was during her collegiate days. It happened in 2014 at Tulsa Country Club during the NCAA National Championships.
This time around, it helped her to a 2-under par second round effort. She is at 4-under overall heading into tomorrow’s final round and will tee at 11:10 a.m. ET off No. 1.
“I’ll take it, under par any day is a good day,” said Finkelstein. “I left a lot out there, but gives me a chance for tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”
LLANEZA DONATES EAGLE WINNINGS
During the Island Resort Championship, any player that makes an eagle receives $100 for their accomplishment, but Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico City, Mexico) turned the tables when it comes to giving.
In the first round yesterday, Llaneza recorded a three on the par-5 18th. From there, she took her cash prize and enjoyed a 1-under par day one result.
However, what she did today was truly extraordinary, especially for someone that doesn’t call the United States home. Llaneza donated her winnings from the eagle back to the Island Resort & Casino, which is raising funds this week for the Wounded Warriors Project. From there, the tournament host matched the donation to make it $200 sent to the national branch.
“It really shows appreciation for what we’re doing,” said Sue Harris, the Marketing Director for Island Resort & Casino. “We value the players highly and it just shows value back. The project is so wonderful that we’re very pleased to increase our donation because of the kindness.”
On top of her gracious act, Llaneza made the cut and will tee at 8 a.m. ET tomorrow in the final round. In total, eight eagles have been made during competition at Sweetgrass Golf Club, including two today.
SSU-CHIA CHENG'S SECOND ROUND INTERVIEW