TAN TAKES HOME THE HARDWARE
It took 55 holes, but Kelly Tan (Batu Pahat, Malaysia) capped a championship performance by sinking a birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with Demi Runas (Torrance, California) to capture the 11th annual Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
“I’m still trying to compose myself, it is really great for me winning here,” said Tan, who set the 54-hole tournament scoring record with a 13-under par total (203). “Missing the cut last week was really devastating because coming into the season I had a lot of confidence and was really excited, maybe a little too excited. Coming into this week, I’ve never felt like this in any situation. I think it was great and hope to keep the confidence level up.”
After finishing tied for 13th at the Final Stage of the 2013 LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Tan became a rookie on the LPGA Tour in 2014 and competed on the big stage through 2017. The results didn’t come as expected and then last season, she found herself on the Symetra Tour with the objective of reaching the LPGA once again.
In 16 starts during her first year on the Symetra Tour, Tan made three cuts. Now, she steps into the winner’s circle for the first time in any LPGA Tour family event.
“Playing on the LPGA made me a lot stronger and mature on the golf course, knowing what I can and can’t do,” Tan said. “Going through last year, it was obviously the worst of my career and the most down I’ve ever been emotionally. I’m very grateful for the people around me because they never had a doubt, even when I doubted myself. It has definitely helped me get to where I am today.”
RUNAS COMES UP JUST SHORT IN PLAYOFF
The result was not exactly what Demi Runas was hoping for, but her takeaway from a solo second finish at the Country Club of Winter Haven in the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic was all positive.
“It started on the back nine, took a peek at the leaderboard with a few holes to go and I wasn’t out of it,” said Runas, who carded a 4-under par 68 in the final round. “I didn’t really have a great front nine and was fortunate enough to make a couple birdies coming in. When I saw Kelly had a really close putt for eagle on 18, I thought, ‘This is cool, this is what we play for to compete with each other.’”
To open the season, Runas has now collected two top-10 finishes. She credits the results to a change in short game coach, as she is working with PGA TOUR Champions player Skip Kendall.
“My preparation has been a little different after last season,” Runas said. “Having somebody to talk to who has done it all and understands the place that I’m in is really nice. Last year, I felt like I was really close and just a couple things needed to be tweaked. So far, it has been a great start.”
VOLVIK RACE FOR THE CARD STANDINGS AFTER WEEK TWO
Following the second tournament of the 2019 Symetra Tour season, the Volvik Race for the Card welcomes a fresh top-10.
The victory and $18,750 winner’s check move Kelly Tan up into the No. 3 position, having earned $18,750 through the first two events. Here is a look at the current top-10 heading into the fourth annual IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa hosted by Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont, Calif. from March 29-31:
1. Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville, Virginia) - $22,088
2. Julieta Granada (Asuncion, Paraguay) - $20,566
3. Kelly Tan - $18,750
4. Demi Runas - $17,224
5. Karen Chung (Livingston, New Jersey) - $14,711
6. Kyung Kim (Chandler, Arizona) - $12,552
7. Allison Emrey (Charlotte, North Carolina) - $10,859
8. Csicsi Rozsa (Budapest, Hungary) - $9,898
9. Ssu-Chia Cheng (Taipei, Chinese Taipei) - $8,469
10. Katelyn Sepmoree (Tyler, Texas) - $8,317
Kyung Kim (-12, 3rd) on if she knew her position on the leaderboard down the stretch:
“Standing on 18 tee, I didn’t know. I just tried to play it safe. I could’ve gone for the green, but with the wind I just wanted to play it safe because my wedges had been pretty good this week. I wanted to utilize that to my advantage. It still feels good and gives me more confidence going into the season.”
Katelyn Sepmoree (-10, 4th) on her start to the season:
“Really good start, put in a lot of work during the offseason and it is good to see it pay off quickly. Obviously, I would’ve liked to finish higher and won this one, but it was a good week. I just focused on myself and wasn’t trying to see what other people were doing.”
Leona Maguire (-9, 5th) on finishing the final round under par:
“The wind made those last four or five holes pretty tough. Moved up some tees on the front side and I didn’t really take advantage of it. Hit some not great drives and my pace putting was really off. The back nine was quite a grind with some tricky pins and longer holes. It was nice to finish under par, definitely a lot of positives to take away.”
Laura Wearn (-6, T11) on recording a triple bogey at the par-4 8th:
“I hit a good drive off the tee and had an awkward number in, about 90 yards but a little into the wind. I was going between my 58-degree wedge and 52, decided to hit my 52 and it was the right club just chunked it a little bit. If I’m going to miss it, that was the right spot. Then I bladed the chip over and long is not where you want to be. I chunked my next chip and then switched clubs and hit a pretty good third chip to about six or seven feet. I thought I gave myself a lot of chances after, I just had some major chipping problems that cost me. When you’re not confident with your chipping, it makes everything a little bit harder. Hopefully I can learn from this and move on.”
- Tan, 25, is a native of Batu Pahat, Malaysia
- Three-time winner of the Malaysian Ladies Open as an amateur
- Two-time champion on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour
- Finished T13 at the Final Stage of the 2013 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority List Category 12 membership for the 2014 LPGA Tour season, turned professional immediately after completing the event
- Represented her native country at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and finished solo 51st
- 2018 was first year on the Symetra Tour and played in 16 events with a season-best T22 showing at the IOA Invitational
- Entering 2019, has made 62 starts on the LPGA Tour since rookie year in 2014 with a career-best result of T4 at the 2014 Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & O-I
- First-time Symetra Tour champion at the 2019 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, also her first win in any LPGA Tour family event
- 13-under par total (203) set Florida’s Natural Charity Classic 54-hole tournament scoring record and won on the first hole of sudden-death playoff against Demi Runas, who also shot 13-under par