Japanese Rookie Nomura Wins Daytona Beach Invitational
Article courtesy of LPGA Futures Tour
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., April 3, 2011 - Japan's Haru Nomura was forced to save par on the 18th hole in today's final round to win the LPGA Futures Tour's $100,000 Daytona Beach Invitational.
Nomura carded rounds of 69-67-71 to grab her first professional win at 9-under 207, earning $14,000 for her victory. She edged amateur Jaye Marie Green (72) of Boca Raton, Fla., at 8-under 208.
The teen from Tokyo watched her second shot veer dangerously close to the left water hazard bordering the 18th hole on the Champions Course at LPGA International. With a bounce of good luck, her ball landed just above the water's edge.
"I thought the ball was in the water," said Nomura, 18, who also is an LPGA rookie. "I thought it was gone. My mindset was to get a par. If I get a par, I win."
Her uphill chip hit the 18th green and rolled to the back fringe. Moments later, Green, who was in the final pairing with Nomura, drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the last hole to move within one shot of the lead.
The Tokyo pro's putt from the fringe stopped two feet short of the hole. She tapped in for par and the victory in only her third professional event and her second tournament on the LPGA Futures Tour.
"Yesterday, I used my pitching wedge on the fringe, but it didn't go well," said Nomura, who had three birdies and two bogeys in today's final round. "I asked my coach and we decided to go with the putter from the fringe today."
Playing on an amateur exemption for winning the 2011 South Atlantic Amateur ("Sally") Championship, Green, 17, a high school junior, started the day tied for the lead with Nomura, but lost ground with bogeys on holes 2 and 5. Green recovered with a pair of six-foot birdies on 10 and 11, but took double-bogey on the par-three 14th hole when it took her two shots to get out of a bunker.
Green birdied 16 and 18, but the amateur ran out of holes as she chased Nomura to the finish.
"I gave myself a chance," said Green, who plans to play college golf at the University of Florida in the fall of 2012. "I didn't think I'd be happy with second place, but I feel good. Having fans out here gives me chills. It's a great experience."
Second-year pros Caroline Westrup (73) of Ahus, Sweden and Jennifer Johnson (73) of Carlsbad, Calif., tied for third at 5-under 211.
Nomura's smile was unmistakable as she held her crystal trophy, stared at her giant cardboard check and had her photo made in front of the leaderboard with her name at the top.
But when asked how important it was for her to win for the people back home in Japan who had suffered in the devastation of the recent earthquake and tsunami, the teen's tone changed.
"I think it's very important to give them something to cheer about," she said. "We constantly talk about it. They are in my thoughts and in my mind."
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