Article Courtesy of Duramed FUTURES Tour
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, May 2, 2010 - One member of their national championship team was a tournament winner on the 2009 Duramed FUTURES Tour. And with three members of that University of Southern California squad currently playing on the Tour this season, the question for 2010 has been, "Who's next?"
Paola Moreno of Cali, Colombia raised her putter and answered that question today with her first professional win at the $125,000 Texas Hill Country Classic. She carded rounds of 68-70-71 to win the Tour's fifth tournament with a score of 7-under 209 on a challenging course at The Dominion Country Club.
Moreno squeaked out her first professional title by one shot over two other 2010 tournament winners, Angela Oh (69) of Maple Shade, N.J., and Cindy LaCrosse (69) of Tampa, Fla., who tied for second at 210 (-6).
"It's a beautiful day for me," said Moreno, 24, an All-American and member of USC's 2008 NCAA Women's Golf Championship team. "I stayed positive the whole day and trusted myself. It took me a while, but I'm super happy."
Moreno started the day with a one-stroke lead, dropped a shot with a bogey on the fifth hole, and then promptly regained her share of the lead that she would never relinquish with a birdie from 25 feet on No. 6.
But playing two groups ahead, LaCrosse, the Tour's 2010 money leader, slammed home a pair of 15-foot birdies on holes 7 and 8 to grab the lead. LaCrosse made the nine-hole turn at four-under par and appeared to be picking up steam, but back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes brought her momentum to a skidding halt. The former University of Louisville All-American missed the green in regulation on No. 11 and didn't get up and down for par, and then she three-putted the 12th from 40 feet, missing her five-foot par putt.
"After the turn, I knew I was playing well," said LaCrosse, who hit 13 greens in regulation today. "I tried not to protect anything, but I wasn't as aggressive as I was on the front. I just wish I could have kept that momentum going."
LaCrosse birdied the 16th hole from 15 feet for her fifth birdie today - all from between 12-15 feet - and had a chance to tie Moreno on the last hole, but she settled for par.
Oh moved within one shot of the lead when she birdied the 17th hole from six feet and Moreno three-putted for bogey on the 15th hole from 50 feet. Oh had nearly an identical left-to-right six-foot putt on the 18th that she had just made a hole earlier, but she missed just right. Had the putt dropped, she would have drawn even with Moreno to contend for her second tournament of the season.
"I tried to go for it, but I guess I didn't play enough break," said Oh, who won the Tour's season opener in March. "My tee shots were all over the place, but I made a lot of up and downs to save par today. I would feel so much better if I had made that last putt."
With Oh and LaCrosse in the clubhouse waiting for the outcome, it was Moreno's tournament to win or lose on her finishing holes. Pornanong Phatlum (69) of Chaiyaphum, Thailand and Meredith Duncan (70) of Shreveport, La., chased, but finished tied for fourth at 5-under 211.
Nontaya Srisawang (73) of Chiang Mai, Thailand, also drew even with Moreno on the front nine, but played the back at one-over par to finish sixth at 4-under 212.
Even former Southern Cal teammate Dewi Claire Schreefel (71) of Diepenveen, Netherlands made a run at Moreno, threatening to add a second Tour victory to the title she won last year in her rookie season. But Schreefel finished tied for seventh at 3-under 213 with Sae Hee Son (73) of Seoul, South Korea, and first-round leader Lori Atsedes (74) of Ithaca, N.Y.
Moreno saved par from four feet on the 16th, and then added a pair of pars on her last two holes to secure the win and earn a champagne shower by another former Trojan teammate Veronica Felibert, along with Tour members Alison Walshe and Janice Olivencia.
"This is big," said rookie Felibert of Caracas, Venezuela, who tied for 42nd at 5-over 221. "She has been real close to winning, but this is her first one. I knew she could handle it and today, she did her job."
Hanging around to watch their friend in the award ceremony, Walshe and Olivencia also celebrated the milestone for Moreno, who was the 2008 Pac-10 Conference champion.
"She's had doubts and she's watched her friends do well on the LPGA," said Walshe, of Westford, Mass., who tied for 14th at one-under 215. "This win helps her know she's right there with everybody else."
"We all know she is one of the top players on the Duramed FUTURES Tour, but today, she proved it to herself," added Olivencia, of Caguas, Puerto Rico, who tied for 57th at 8-over 224.
Moreno joined Schreefel as the second Trojan to notch a win on the Duramed FUTURES Tour in the last two years. The last Colombian to win here was Cristina Baena in 2005, and the last two players from South America to win on this tour were Baena and Julieta Granada of Paraguay, both tournament winners in 2005.
Today, on a 6,412-yard layout in pristine condition that hosted the PGA's Champions Tour from 1985-2001, Moreno joined an elite group of players who got their start on the LPGA's developmental tour. She also jumped from 49th on the season money list to fourth, moving into the top 10 for 2011 LPGA Tour membership.
"I'd be lying if I said I haven't had second thoughts about this," said Moreno, a 2010 LPGA Tour rookie who divided her first season on the Duramed FUTURES Tour last summer with finishing her economics degree at Southern California. "But today, I can say, now I know that I want to do this."
And that she also has bragging rights as the newest tournament winner to give it the old college try.
For scores and more information, visit duramedfuturestour.com.