Marta Sanz Barrio (Madrid, Spain) captured her first career Symetra Tour win on August 19 in Battle Creek, Mich. at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship. It was her fourth top-25 finish this season and helped launch her into the top-30 in the Volvik Race for the Card. Below. Sanz Barrio reflects on the win, season so far and much more.
At the beginning of this year, I had to make a difficult decision when trying to plan my schedule since I was going to play a full Symetra Tour season for the first time in my career. I have been playing Ladies European Tour (LET) full-time for the past three years, so it was going to be a big adjustment for every aspect of my life. I love playing on the LET, but my ultimate goal is to compete with the best in the world every week, and that happens on the LPGA Tour.
After saving money the past three years, I decided the fourth was the one to start focusing on the Symetra Tour and work around their schedule. That might seem simple, but let me give you some numbers.
On Thursday I will be starting my 21st event of the year here in Sioux Falls, S.D. I have played events on four different tours, been on four continents, competed in 13 states, driven more than 10,000 miles and crossed the Atlantic Ocean seven times already—and it’s only August! Being an international player on the Symetra Tour—or anyone on any tour for that matter—is sure adventurous and exciting, but it is also hard and tiring on both your body and your mind.
However, this is the life we chose and you have to love it and enjoy it. Fortunately for me, I do. Even though, who hasn’t experienced that love/hate feeling only golf can bring you? Jokes aside, I have learned a lot in this first eight months of the year and Symetra Tour teaches you a lot about not only golf, but life.
For example, you realize how good some people are in the world. People who open their homes for us, admire the life choice we made to chase our dream and try to make our week as smooth as possible.
Also, one thing me and my sister (Patricia) are very proud of is learning how to entertain ourselves in a car! Before, five hours in the car seemed like a drag, but now, after taking 10 and 11 hour trips, that five hours feels like nothing. In Europe rarely anyone drives, but if you were to drive 11 hours, you would pass through roughly three or four countries. In the U.S., however, you may not even go through one state.
Persistence and patience must be good friends of yours. There are 21 events squeezed into slightly more than six months, so it’s going to be intense and aggressive.
Before Battle Creek, my season hadn’t been the greatest, a few good results here and there but nothing good enough to move me up the rankings. In fact, the highlights of my season—gold medalist at the Mediterranean Games and WPGA Spanish Champion—didn’t even come from Symetra Tour events (remember, my main focus), so I wasn’t exactly satisfied. Looking back now, those other successes outside Symetra greatly helped me to get to the position I am in now.
The Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship was my sixth week in a row competing, so my long game wasn’t exactly on point. I worked on it a lot the days leading up to the tournament. The first two days I was only focused on missing as good as I could and then trying to amend those mistakes with my short game and putting. And it worked. I shot two consecutive rounds of 69, making a lot of putts along the way.
Then in the final round, and specially the back nine, my long game came together. With my putting at its best and hitting shots close, a lot of birdies came. A 6-under par on the back nine alone, combined with a 1-under result on the front nine gave me a one-shot lead with in the clubhouse and only three more groups on the course. Augusta James—a great competitor—was also having a great round of 6-under and almost made a 40-foot putt on No. 18 to force a playoff.
The win brought me up to the 29th spot in the Volvik Race for the Card and with six events left, anything is possible. I will bring 100 percent over this final stretch and hopefully achieve my goal of playing on the LPGA next season!