Fresh off her professional debut on the LPGA Tour, Leona Maguire has now announced herself to the members of its feeder tour with a superb tie for third at the Forsyth Classic on the Symetra Tour circuit.
The Cavan star continued her seamless transition to the paid ranks to fire her third straight round in the 60s in an accomplished display in Illinois. Maguire was near flawless in her work and carded three birdies without a bogey in sight to finish on a 10-under-par total, with the former Duke University student looking at ease in her new environment.
That finishing total was one stroke better than Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow who is enjoying a fine season this year after an injury-ravaged 2017.
Meadow looked to be mounting a serious challenge for the title after picking up birdies at her first three holes but bogeys at 4 and 7 put paid to her chances.
To her credit she added two more gains on her inward half and another top-10 finish further consolidates her position inside the top-10 of the Volvik Race for the Card standings with those in the coveted spots at season’s end earning their playing privileges on the LPGA Tour next season.
Unfortunately the news wasn’t so good for Lisa Maguire this week, however, and though she looked much more comfortable after a debut to forget at the ShopRite Classic in New Jersey last week, she signed for a second successive 75 on Saturday to miss the cut at plus six.
At the top of the leaderboard, it took 76 holes, but Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany) did not melt under pressure or in the sweltering central Illinois heat, coming out with her first Symetra Tour win. Gabsa and Jillian Hollis (Rocky River, Ohio) were tied at 13-under par after 72 holes and they proceeded to play No. 18 in a sudden-death playoff format until a winner was decided. On the fourth playoff hole, Gabsa prevailed thanks to a birdie conversion.
“I’m still not realizing that I won, especially after the four playoff holes,” said Gabsa, who went 2-under par on the afternoon before the playoff. “It’s just speechless. To win in a playoff, it’s always a little bit special. A win is a win at the end. It always feels great.”
For a minute on the third playoff hole, it seemed as if Hollis would put an end to things. Her approach was well inside that of Gabsa, leaving her with the first solid chance at victory.
“I had like a 15-foot putt up the hill. I hit it perfect, I hit it right on my line,” said Hollis, who carded a 4-under par final round to reach the playoff. “It was supposed to break a little left and it just stayed straight.”
The birdie opportunity for Hollis even had Gabsa sweating.
“I was pretty sure she would make it,” Gabsa said. “I already had put my ball back and ready to congratulate her. But, we went back and did it all over again.”
That they did and this time Gabsa did not miss her mark. For Hollis, the runner-up title is nothing to be ashamed of in her first career Symetra Tour start.
“My last hole I had a downhill putt, just hit a little hard through the break,” said Hollis. “Congratulations to her, she played awesome. I proved that I can shoot the scores to win out here. I can shoot my personal best score and follow it up with another good round today. Just to be able to get into a playoff was great. It has been fun this week.”
A two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series, this win shows Gabsa exactly why she came to the United States to compete on the road to the LPGA Tour, playing on the Symetra Tour to give herself a chance at the highest level of women’s professional golf.
VOLVIK RACE FOR THE CARD STANDINGS
Another tournament in the books means another juggling act when it comes to the Volvik Race for the Card top-10.
Following her win and $19,500 winner’s check, Isi Gabsa moves up 10 spots to make her 2018 Volvik Race for the Card top-10 debut at No. 5.
Here is a look at the current top-10 heading into the next event:
- Jenny Haglund (Karlstad, Sweden) – $49,019
- Elizabeth Szokol (Winnetka, Illinois) – $38,390
- Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) – $37,798
- Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) – $36,094
- Isi Gabsa – $34,989
- Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Florida) – $34,007
- Pajaree Anannarukarn (Bangkok, Thailand) – $26,375
- Maia Schechter (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) – $23,355
- Louise Ridderstrom (Stocksund, Sweden) – $23,064
- Lauren Kim (Los Altos, California) – $23,003
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