It wasn’t a win for Leona Maguire at the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge but she shouldn’t be too disappointed with the a T3 finish as she looks to establish herself on the Symetra Tour in her first full season.
Leona Maguire / Image from Symetra Tour
Maguire went into the final round just two shots off the lead and with a chance to take the title but a final round of 70, which included one bogey and one birdie, meant she couldn’t improve on her position on the leaderboard, finishing six under par in total and five shots behind winner Linnea Strom.
Stephanie Meadow had a much improved day as she carded her best round of the week with a 66 that was highlighted by an eagle 2 on the par four 8th hole. Meadow had five birdies as well but also three bogeys as she moved up the leaderboard to finish T28 from a day starting position of 49.
More significantly for Meadow she has been pushed down the Volvik Race for the Card rankings to now be in third place after Stroms victory after a 3-under par 67 final round performance for Strom proved to be enough for her to step into the winner’s circle for the first time in her professional career.
The Arizona State University alumna recorded an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys en route to finishing at 11-under par overall.
“This is always going to be a special place for me, my first professional win,” said Ström. “It was a great week, the hospitality was amazing and there were so many fans out there watching. I’m very happy to be here and for this to be my first win.”
One of the bogeys happened to be on the last hole of the afternoon, creating some good theatre for the gallery. Ström pulled her drive into the hazard on the left side of the par-4 18th.
“It’s not over until it’s over and I knew that I had a two-shot lead,” Ström said. “It was in my mind that Charlotte [Thomas] was going to make a birdie, so I at least had to save bogey and hopefully force a playoff. I stayed in the present, though, and figured out where to drop it, just get it on the green. It was a tough last hole, I made it a little bit too interesting.”
She ended up doing just as she told herself, and combined with a par from playing partner Charlotte Thomas (Guildford, England), it’s Ström leaving the Mount Rushmore State with a one-shot victory and some hardware.
“It became a bit of drama that’s for sure, but I thought that we handled it pretty cool anyway,” said Ström’s dad and caddy Jonny. “As long as we understood that we had a shot, from that moment on I was pretty calm. It’s a nice feeling when you see it dropped on the green and hear the crowd as well. It’s a joy for sure and the way she has been playing, very solid all week.”
The drama started long before the final hole today, however. On the par-5 7th, Thomas matched Ström at 8-under par with a solid approach and birdie conversion. Moments after, Ström rolled in an eagle putt to move to 10-under par and never looked back.
Even though Thomas would cut into the deficit at times, Ström always had an answer. For every birdie the University of Washington all-time leader in career top-10s would find, it brought her closer, but could not get her over the hump. On the back nine, Ström’s lead grew to as much as three, a margin that was all she needed for cushion down the stretch.
“Charlotte is a great player and a really nice girl,” said Ström. “Every time I play with her, it’s so much fun and great to see her play some good golf as well. We had some good battles back in college. Now I got this one, but it’s always really fun to play with other good players.”
VOLVIK RACE FOR THE CARD STANDINGS
Following the 16th tournament of the 2018 Symetra Tour season, the Volvik Race for the Card saw a good amount of shifting within the top-10.
The win and $31,500 winner’s cheque launched Linnea Ström 22 spots in the rankings to No. 2, having earned $58,788 through 15 events played. Here is a look at the current top-10 heading into the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course in Garden City, Kan., from Sept. 7-9:
Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) – $72,482 Linnea Ström – $58,788 Stephanie Meadow (Jordanstown, Northern Ireland) – $56,657 Charlotte Thomas – $53,319 Isi Gabsa (Munich, Germany) – $51,376 Jenny Haglund (Karlstad, Sweden) – $50,617 Elizabeth Szokol (Winnetka, Illinois) – $48,357 Eun Jeong Seong (Yongin, Republic of Korea) – $46,418 Ruixin Liu (Dalian, China) – $46,027 Stephanie Kono (Honolulu, Hawaii) – $45,178