Alena Sharp strung together three strong rounds including a final-round, 1-under-par 71 to finish at 12-under-par and claim her first career Symetra Tour victory at the second annual Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club.
Marissa Steen shot a final-round, 4-under 68 to finish two strokes behind Sharp in second place at 10-under for the weekend. Emily Talley, Becca Huffer, Sadena Parks and Jennie Lee finished three shots off the pace in a tie for third at 9-under-par.
“It feels amazing, I’ve worked really hard the last five months and I’ve finished second a lot on this tour and this is my first win.” said Sharp. “It feels really good, I struck the ball well all week, putted well and hung in there.”
Sharp came back to the field early in her round. After a birdie on the first, the 32-year-old made three consecutive bogeys to fall to 9-under for the tournament. She ironed out the issues toward the end of the front nine with back-to-back birdies to move back to 11-under-par, three shots in front of Lee at the turn.
“It was a little bit of a grind today, but I used my mental toughness and training to get through it and I’m happy that I’m holding the trophy,” said Sharp.
Sharp held a three-stroke lead over Lee heading into the final day and never relinquished control. Although she led from start to finish, Sharp was challenged. The current resident of Arizona finished with a flourish, making birdie on the final hole to close out the championship.
“I just felt like the weight has come off my shoulders,” said Sharpe. “I was kind of nervous even though it was a short putt, so I tried to block everything out and focus on getting the ball in the whole and it just feels amazing right now.”
Sharp’s next event will be the LPGA Founder’s Cup in Phoenix, which takes place March 20-23.
“This is a big confidence boost, I played well in the Bahamas and missed the cut in Australia so I was a little bit down coming into this week,” said Sharp. “These three days have brought me back up and now I have a month off until the next tournament, the LPGA Founder’s Cup, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Sharp’s best round of the weekend was her second round on Saturday when she fired a 6-under-par 66. She shot a 5-under-par 67 in round one. For the weekend, Sharpe made a total of 19 birdies.
There were 20 players who shot 3-under-par or better for the weekend including Cheyenne Woods, who had a 71 in the final round to finish in a tie for 14th at 3-under-par.
Steen birdied five of her final 11 holes including the 18th to finish in sole possession of second place at 10-under.
The Visit Mesa sponsor invite, Becca Huffer, completed her surprising yet magnificent run with a 4-under-par 68 on the final day to finish in a tie for third.
“I thought I played well today and gave myself some birdie opportunities again,” said Huffer. “It was awesome to get to play in the event and play the way I know I can play out here and have everyone out here supporting me.”
In front of friends and family members, Huffer eagled the ninth hole and made four birdies on the day. She hopes to play in more Symetra Tour events following the reshuffle after the sixth event of the year.
“I was hoping to play good this week and being near the top is nice to see,” said Huffer. “My hard work on the Cactus Tour and in practice rounds has been validated and I look forward to being back on the Symetra Tour later in the year.”