Victoria Elizabeth of Dayton, Ohio grabbed ahold of the second round lead and never looked back as she fired a final-round 3-under par 68 to win the Credit Union Classic Presented by Wegmans.
In her third season on the Symetra Tour as professional, Elizabeth gained momentum early as she birdied her first three holes to take extend her lead.
"I just felt good from the beginning and on the first hole I knew that if I started out with a birdie there, it would kind of set the momentum for today," said Elizabeth. "I really feel like almost every hole on the front nine is a birdie hole, actually every hole out here is a birdie hole it’s just a matter of where you hit it."
The 20 year-old made the turn at 3-under for the day and it wasn’t until the par-4 11th that she made her first bogey in 21 holes. Elizabeth immediately responded with back-to-back birdies on the par-3 12th and par-5 13th then a bogey at 15 returned her to 12-under for the tournament.
While Elizabeth was cruising along with a five-stroke lead at one point, a duo of players including LPGA Tour member Rebecca Lee-Bentham and playing partner Thidapa Suwannapura began to close the gap.
Lee-Bentham was the first to close Elizabeth’s lead to two followed by Suwannapura who’s back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 narrowed the gap to one.
With only a one stroke lead, Elizabeth hit her drive on the 18th in the right rough coming just short of the water, while Suwannapura found the center of the fairway.
Suwannapura was the first to play and narrowly missed the green leaving the door open for Elizabeth. Faced with 134-yards to the pin and a slight breeze in her face, Elizabeth knocked a 9-iron close taking back control.
"I knew I needed to make two more good swings and try to make a birdie and that’s pretty much all I could do, just try to control what I was doing if she makes birdie, she makes birdie," said Elizabeth. "It was in my control and I had a good angle and good yardage so I just committed to it and made the shot."
In control she was, Suwannapura failed to get up-and-down for par while Elizabeth two-putted to secure her first Symetra Tour victory. The win didn’t come as a surprise to Elizabeth who has raved about the Drumlins Country Club, East Course all week.
"I’m not surprised, I thought for a while my game has been close I just haven’t quite put all three rounds together," said Elizabeth. "It’s nice to do it here on a course I love around people I really love, too."
One of the more popular players on the Symetra Tour, Elizabeth was immediately greeted by several of her fellow tour members who drenched her with water and sparkling grape juice.
"I have a lot of friends out here, great friends," said Elizabeth. "It’s nice to know they are so supportive of me, as supportive of me as I am of them."
The win could not come at a better time for Elizabeth, who is dedicating her first win on the Symetra Tour to a trio of people who she holds near and dear to her heart. Her nana, Sylvia McBain and godfather, Alan Gardner both share the same birthday on July 27th.
Her nana had made it clear the only thing she wants for her birthday is a win from Elizabeth during tournament week.
"A couple months ago I started asking my grandmother what she wanted for her birthday," said Elizabeth. "She said she wanted a win and that’s all she wanted and she’d be happy."
Elizabeth also dedicated her win to someone who was inevitably watching over her this week and that was her cousin Raymond Palencia who recently passed away at the young age of 29-years-old.
This week marked the first of five consecutive tournaments for the Symetra Tour with the Credit Union Challenge Presented by SEFCU, Sunmark and BFB Benefits set to take place next week.