Laurie Rinker shot the low round of the tournament, a 7-under 65, to claim her first LPGA T&CP National Championship at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla. The duel LPGA T&CP A-2 member and PGA Professional finished four shots clear of four-time winner and three-time defending champion Jean Bartholomew and PGA Professional Karen Paolozzi. Her three-day total of 9-under par 207 gave the former LPGA Tour member the win in just her second appearance in the event and the $10,000 winner’s check.
“I feel like I played well every day. I just maybe hit the ball closer today and just made some putts,” said Rinker. “My proximity to the hole was much better today. I probably only missed six greens in three days.”
Rinker started the day two shots off second-round leader Lisa Grimes and pulled herself even with Grimes at 5-under through nine holes after going out in 2-under 34. But a stellar bogey-free back nine that included five birdies pushed her well out in front.
“Once I get on that birdie train I try to keep them going,” said Rinker.
Rinker joked in her acceptance speech that she was happy to win the ‘Jean Open’ and knew her good friend in Bartholomew would be tough to unseat as champion.
“She’s played really well the last few years and I knew I was going to have to shoot something low today,” said Rinker. “I knew one of those girls in the last group would play well.”
Rinker’s win also earns her a spot in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, an event she’s very familiar with but a venue she’s not. Rinker’s last LPGA Tour event was the 2009 LPGA Championship and her best finish in a major as a Tour member was tied for third at the 1987 event. She said she’s looking forward to the rotating venue schedule for the Championship and might make a phone call to her brother, former PGA Tour player Lee Rinker, before making the trip to Pacific Northwest next summer. Lee played in the 1998 PGA Championship when it was held at Sahalee.
“I haven’t played there but I’m thrilled to go out there and compete,” said Rinker.
For complete scores, visit http://www.lpga.com/tcp/2015-national-championship-live-scoring
TICKETS PUNCHED FOR SAHALEE
The top-8 finishers in the Championship Division all earned spots in the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club: Rinker, Bartholomew, Paolozzi, Jennifer Bermingham (Long Beach, Calif.), Lisa Grimes (Alexandria, Minn.), Jessica Carafiello (Coral Springs, Fla.), Hillery Wilson (Maryland Heights, Mo.) and Elizabeth Caron (West Hartford, Conn.).
Rinker, Bartholomew, Paolozzi, Grimes and Caron all made appearances at the major championship in June at Westchester Country Club based on their finishes at last year’s National Championship.
HILL DEFENDS TITLE IN SENIOR DIVISION, WINS THIRD OVERALL
After Monday’s first-round of 76, Carolyn Hill knew she had to put together two strong rounds to have a chance at defending her Senior Division title this week. She chipped away on Tuesday with a 2-under 70 and sat three shots off the lead heading into today’s final round.
“It feels great,” said Hill. “I opened up the tournament with a 76 so I set myself back quite a ways and had a lot of work to do. I got a couple back yesterday and today was able to hit the ball really well. Lo and behold the ball was going in the hole and hit some really nice iron shots out there. It was a good solid day.”
Hill closed with a 6-under 66 that included a bogey-free back nine with five birdies on her final eight holes. She finished one shot clear of Jan Kleiman (McCordsville, Ind.) and AnneMarie Palli (Scottsdale, Ariz.).
“You have to take each day as it comes,” said Hill. “I just tried to chip away. I try to break the course up in threes and play some mini three hole stretches. I’m like ok every three holes the goal is to get a birdie. It shortens it up and helps you not overthink what you’re doing overall. It helps stay in the present. Just hit this shot right here.”
Hill’s victory is her third overall in her five appearances at the Championship. She also won in her first start in 2011.
“The goal is always just to come in and play your best,” said Hill. “Hopefully defend but you can’t control what anyone else is doing out there. There are some really great players out here and you never really know what’s going to happen.”
FASOLDT DEFENDS TITLE IN CHALLENGE DIVISION
Susan Fasoldt came into this week at Reunion Resort trying not to think about her title defense in the Challenge Division but rounds of 75-74-72 on the Palmer Course was enough to get the job done.
“No it really wasn’t on my mind,” said Fasoldt. “I wasn’t trying to win; I thought that would be too much pressure.”
Fasoldt credited her friendly rivalry with close friend and fellow competitor Cathy Edelen for pushing her through the final round. Fasoildt beat out Edelman last year for the top spot by five shots, this year by just two.
“Cathy is a good friend of mine and she’s always very competitive so I anticipated a good match and it was,” said Fasoldt. “So it was really just keep playing as well as I have been.”
GOSLAK FINISHES STRONG WITH ACE
Anne Marie Goslak (Winston-Salem, NC) didn’t have the week she would have liked performance-wise at Reunion Resort but she did have a highlight to close out the final round on a strong note. Goslak got her first competitive hole-in-one, fourth overall, on the 16th hole. She had six bogeys on the day but closed her final five holes 2-under par. Glosak used a 6 iron from 164 yards for the ace.
“It was definitely a nice way to finish,” said Goslak. “I love this tournament and the resort has been phenomenal. Despite not a great tournament for me, it was a great highlight.”