SAGSTROM CAPTURES MAIDEN LPGA TOUR WIN AT GAINBRIDGE LPGA AT BOCA RIO
One start into the 2020 LPGA Tour season, and Madelene Sagstrom can now call herself an LPGA Tour winner.
The feat was not without drama. Sagstrom went into the final round of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in the final pairing, holding the 54-hole lead for the first time in her young LPGA Tour career. Playing with three-time Tour winner Nasa Hataoka, Sagstrom bogeyed twice and birdied once in her front nine, as Hataoka went bogey-free and recorded three birdies in her first nine holes.
At No. 10 the winds began to change for the Swede, as she chipped in from the bunker for birdie and went on to birdie No. 11. Hataoka clawed back after a bogey on No. 10 to birdie Nos. 15 and 16 to take the lead at -17 as both stepped up to 17th tee.
Sagstrom knew she had to be aggressive in the last two holes to have a chance. As Hataoka hit the green with her tee shot on the par-3 17th, Sagstrom went pin-seeking and stuck her ball about three feet from the hole. A birdie tied Hataoka at -17, as the young Japanese star made par.
Fast forward to the 18th green, where Sagstrom’s approach left her far from the pin on the fringe. A simple chip to get closer left her par putt a must make, one she sunk to cheers from the gallery. Hataoka missed a short par putt and it took only a few seconds for Sagstrom to realize what that meant for her. As tears flowed, she became a Rolex First-Time Winner and the 12th different Swedish winner in the history of the LPGA Tour.
“I have never been in a situation like this before, so obviously it was all new to me,” Sagstrom, a three-time Symetra Tour winner, said of sleeping on the 54-hole lead. “I didn't know how I was going to handle it or if it was going to go my way or not, so my whole goal today was just go out and stay patient and do what I have done the other days, because I was, first of all, really proud. I saw myself I had already won in my head today, not winning the tournament, but I had beaten my own demons and just making myself proud already, shooting 62 and following it up by a round of 67, which is huge for me in general. And just being up the leaderboard and putting myself in that situation was just a huge win for me. And this is just icing on the cake right here.”
In 2019, the 27-year-old Swede missed out on qualifying for the Solheim Cup and making it into the Tour’s Asia swing. On Sunday in Boca Raton, Sagstrom said it was the long offseason that enabled her to work on her mental and physical game and ultimately get her into the winner’s circle in the first full field event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season.
“I put something on the Instagram in the beginning of the week, saying I'm determined that 2020 is going to be the best season yet. I didn't know it was going to be this good right away,” Sagstrom said. “But no, I have worked really hard over many years now, and I think that the biggest change or the biggest journey I have had is within myself and my mental game. And finishing second last year really I could really say, okay, I'm good enough to play out here, being up in the top and potentially win. And then now it's I really worked on, like, freeing that potential and getting it out there, and obviously I did this week.”
HATAOKA RUNNER-UP FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE WEEK
Nasa Hataoka was two off the lead heading into the final round of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. Paired with overnight leader Madelene Sagstrom, the 21-year-old fought her way to the top, stepping up to the 18th tee tied for the lead with the Swede at -17. From the fairway, Hataoka’s approach hit the green, as Sagstrom’s went across and landed above the far-side bunkers on the fringe.
As Sagstrom chipped towards the hole, Hataoka then watched as her playing partner holed a putt for a par save to stay at -17. Hataoka’s par putt barely slipped by the right side of the cup at the last moment, handing Sagstrom her first career win. It became Hataoka’s second runner-up performance in as many starts, after falling to Gaby Lopez in a seven-hole playoff at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. Though disappointing to the Rolex Rankings No. 5 player, Hataoka said the close loss is fuel for her next appearance at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
“It kind of helps me out with the beginning two tournaments, being there at the top, gives me a little strength to keep on going for the following many tournaments coming ahead,” said Hataoka. “Missing the win would give me more motivation to keep on going for the next many tournaments coming.”
KANG SECURES THIRD-PLACE FINISH
For a third consecutive day, Danielle Kang signed a bogey-free scorecard with a final round 69 in the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. However, Sunday afternoon’s effort was a bit more challenging.
“I was just very patient today, missed a couple opportunities for birdie in the beginning of the round but I knew I had to shoot a low score,” Kang said after recording her 34th career top-10 finish. “I kept giving myself putts, but couldn’t quite get it close. It was hard to two-putt and I missed some putts inside four feet, so I have trauma from that and took quite a bit of time over three-footers. It wasn’t as easy as the last two days, but I like the fact it was still bogey-free.”
The three-time LPGA Tour winner will now take three weeks off to prepare for the Honda LPGA Thailand, the first stop of the Tour’s Asia swing.
CME GROUP CARES CHALLENGE – SCORE 1 FOR ST. JUDE
The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. CME Group donated $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2019, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
In Sunday’s final round of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, Lauren Stephenson recorded an ace on the 138-yard sixth hole with an 8-iron. Stephenson’s ace is the second of the 2020 LPGA Tour season, after Celine Boutier recorded a hole-in-one during the second round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. That translates to $40,000 raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital so far this year.
“It's so awesome that they're doing that, because our job out here is really to give back, and anything we can do to give back and help other people,” Stephenson said of the CME Group Cares Challenge. “So the fact that they are donating money for stuff that we do is pretty special. And to be one of those people who gets to say, I have helped out or contributed a little bit, it's really special. And I know it means a lot for everyone at St. Jude.”
The 2019 LPGA Tour season saw 32 aces from 31 different players, for a total of $620,000 donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This more than covers the average cost of $425,000 needed to treat a pediatric cancer patient.
LEADERS TOP 10 COMPETITION
For the third consecutive year, the LEADERS Top 10 competition will award $100,000 to the player with the most top-10 finishes prior to the CME Group Tour Championship, with Ariya Jutanugarn (2018) and Jin Young Ko (2019) earning the first two awards.
In the event of a tie in total top-10 finishes, the award will go to the player with the most official wins, followed by most second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc., until the tie is broken.
Through the first two events of the LPGA Tour season, Nasa Hataoka, Sei Young Kim and Celine Boutier lead the competition with two top-10 finishes.
Rolex Rankings No. 116 Madelene Sagstrom (72-62-67-70)
- Sagstrom won in her 69th career LPGA Tour start
- Sagstrom is the 12th different player from Sweden to win on the LPGA Tour, and the first since Pernilla Lindberg won the 2018 ANA Inspiration
- With the $300,000 first-place prize Sagstrom crosses the $1 million mark in official career earnings with $1,132,568
- Sagstrom is in her fourth season on the LPGA Tour; prior to this event she had six career top-10 finishes with a career-best runner-up finish at the 2019 Pure Silk Championship
- She was a member of the 2017 European Solheim Cup Team, posting a 1-2-0 record
- Sagstrom was a member of Team Sweden at the 2018 UL International Crown, posting a 1-3-0 record
- She was the 2016 Symetra Tour Player of the Year and Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year with three wins and 12 top-10 finishes
- Sagstrom is a 2015 graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in psychology
- Players T8 or better represented seven different countries: Sweden, Japan, U.S., France, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Czech Republic