DECATUR, ILLINOIS, June 15, 2014 – With wind gusts topping at 37 miles-per-hour and sustained wind of 22 to 25 mph all day, Madison Pressel used a late surge to top Ashley Tait on the first playoff hole to win the 30th anniversary Decatur-Forsyth Classic presented by Tate & Lyle and Decatur Park District on Sunday. Pressel and Tait were tied at 6-under-par at the end of 18 holes.
“There are really no words to explain this, I just plugged along today and I’ve had definitely one of the best weekends I’ve had playing on Tour,” said the 22-year-old, who shot an even-par 72 to force the playoff. “This is probably the best I’ve played since my junior year of college so to be able to play like this and come away with a win is going to be huge for me for the rest of the season.”
Tait appeared to have the championship wrapped up heading into the 17th hole, three shots up on Pressel at 8-under. However, Tait found trouble and made a double bogey while Pressel capitalized by making birdie to even the score heading to the 18th.
On the 18th, both players made tap-in pars to force a playoff.
On the first playoff hole, Pressel was first to putt and sunk a 20-footer from above the green. Tait missed her birdie putt to the right of the hole and Pressel was doused with water on the green in celebration of her first professional win.
“I fortunately have seen this situation unfold before, I’ve watched Morgan (her older sister) play many match play events and I’ve seen how quickly things can turn around and I just continued to play my game. I didn’t worry about what anyone I was playing with was doing and if I made some birdies, I made some birdies.”
Both players hit excellent approach shots on the first playoff hole.
“I hit a great 3-wood off the tee and a great approach shot and I was feeling a little adrenaline. I was a little shaky with the hands but a yoga breath calmed me down and it just broke a little to the right. I saw it, I stroked it and it went in and that was the best feeling.”
Her first professional victory moves her from 110th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to 17th. The winner’s check of $15,000 increased her earnings to $17,126 for the season.
“This win is unbelievable, my family has been supporting me through everything and to know that I’m not letting them down and I’m not letting myself down is great. To show that I do belong out here really means a lot.”
Pressel shared a moment with her big sister Morgan, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, on the phone after her win.
“It’s the first win for the Pressel girls in quite awhile and for it to be my first professional win is great. I know she remembers the Kraft (Morgan won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2007) her first professional win and I remember sitting on my friends sofa and watching her win that and how freaked out I was. She is at Pinehurst sitting with her caddie and a bunch of friends and she is absolutely freaking out. She said I made her so nervous.”
Pressel is the first Symetra Tour rookie to win this season.
Tait jumped from 90th to 32nd on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with her first career top-10 finish.
Hye-Min Kim and Ashley Sholer finished in a tie for third place.
Cheyenne Woods finished in a six-way tie for fifth at 3-under for the tournament. It was her best finish of the season.
Will Shanshan Feng defend her title?