American Cheyenne Woods played her way to her first Ladies European Tour victory at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters in Queensland, Australia on Sunday. The 23-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, closed with a four-under 69 at RACV Royal Pines Resort in Queensland’s Gold Coast to finish at 16-under par, two shots ahead of her closest challenger, Australian amateur Minjee Lee.
Lee, another 17-year old up-and-comer in the world of women’s pro golf, also shot 69 in the final round, but it wasn’t enough to catch Woods. She closed out the tournament at -14 and in solo second place. We’ll see more of Minjee Lee.
Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth and South African Stacy Lee Bregman, who had shared the lead with Woods for a time, went to the clubhouse two shots further back and sharing third place.
Swede Caroline Hedwall, one of the 2013 Solheim Cup standouts, came to life in the final round. After languishing in the middling ranks for three rounds, Hedwall started the final round in 19th place, shot a bogey-free 66, and soared up the leaderboard to finish with a share of the fifth position, alongside South Koreans So Young Lee and Minsun Kim.
First Pro Win for Woods
The win is the best result in Woods’ two-year pro career and she was absolutely elated:
This is a huge accomplishment for me. The Ladies European Tour has been great to be able to play this last year, I’ve been able to see all of these great players, play with Solheim Cup members, so I’ve learned so much from all of these girls and to be able to come out here and actually compete with them and come out on top was huge for me.
The Australian Masters win came on the heels of a missed cut at the New Zealand Women’s Open last week, making it all the sweeter.
Woods, who’s Rolex Ranked No. 363, played well from the outset, carding rounds of 69, 67, and 71, and starting the final round with a one shot lead. She immediately picked up a shot with a birdie on the par-4 1st. A bogey on the par-4 4th and a hat-trick of birdies on the par-4 6th, 7th and 8th by the reigning Australian amateur champion, Minjee Lee, brought the pair even. However, Woods took the outright lead again with a birdie on the par 5 9th. She addred birdies on the par-5 12th and 15th before a triumphant birdie on the par-5 18th completed a five-birdie, one-bogey final round.
Beyond the Spotlight
Jessica Korda got her game back in the final round but it was too little-too late for the winner of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Korda and Katie Burnett set the pace at the Australian Masters and went into the second round with a one-shot lead. But Korda slumped a bit, carded 73 and 74 in the second and third rounds, and started the final round with a share of 11th place. Her bogey-free final round moved her up into the top-10 finishers, but Korda started the fourth round too far behind to catch Woods. She’ll have another chance to notch a victory next week.
Rolex Ranked No. 215 Burnett simply couldn’t sustain her first round performance. Burnett dropped down the board from a fourth round eighth-place start to a share of nineteenth place. Burnett’s hunt for her first top-10 pro finish will continue.
Amelia Lewis‘s hunt for her first top-10 pro finish will also continue. She wasn’t able to find that stunning game she played during the third round of the Pure Silk-Bahamas. Lewis shot rounds of 71, 72, 76 & 73 and ended the Australian Masters at even par.
Yani Tseng played that magical game we all knew she had tucked in her bag and ended the Aussie Masters on a high note! After rounds of 73, 72 & 74, Tseng started the final round at even par and well down the board in 39th place. Then she came alive, carded 66 to share the lowest fourth round score with Caroline Hedwall, and shot up the board to a 10th place finish. Tseng will be going into the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open with a recharged game.
The ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
The girls go next to Victoria, Australia and the LET/ALPG/LPGA co-sanctioned ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Ranked No. 1 & 2 respectively, will make their 2014 debut, America’s top-ranked golfer, Rolex Ranked No. 3 Stacy Lewis will tee it up, as will No. 4 ranked Lydia Ko. Last year Rolex Ranked No. 74 Jiyal Shin held off challenges by Lydia Ko and Yani Tseng to take home the trophy. I expect another shootout this year at the Victoria Golf Club.
I’ll take a closer look at the Australian Masters field in the coming days.