The final round of the Champions Fore Change Invitational has come to a close, and the Epson Tour has added a new face to the 2023 champions list. Alena Sharp captured her second career Epson Tour victory, her first since the 2014 Visit Mesa Gateway Classic. Sharp has spent most of her career on the LPGA tour, racking up almost $3 million in earnings before getting dual status for the 2023 season. She has played in four Epson Tour events in 2023 and has yet to miss the cut.
Sharp started the day a little shaky with a bogey on the fourth hole, moving her into a tie for the lead. But, after the bogey, it was all Sharp in the final round. She would play the next 14 holes bogey-free and add five birdies to her overall total in that span. Once she regained the solo lead, no one was able to grab a share of it again.
"Today, I played really steady," said Sharp. "I was really happy with my play. It was a little windy today, but I controlled my trajectory really well and am just really proud of myself."
Sharp, a 19-year LPGA veteran, has been in plenty of close final rounds in her career. Racking up 15 top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour and 11 more on the Epson Tour. The Canadian knows how hard it is to win at any level of professional golf and will not take the moment for granted.
"I stayed present all day, and if I had a negative thought, I backed off and started again," said Sharp. "You need luck when you win as well, and I had some luck, so I am just really happy right now."
Trying to track down Sharp all day was Gigi Stoll, who had a few hiccups early in her round. The Oregon native would bogey two of her first four holes to start her day. She then would go on to make six birdies in the next 14 holes and cut Sharp's lead down to one heading into the final hole. A birdie for Sharp on the last would seal the deal for the Canadian, but Stoll ended the week with 20 birdies in 54 holes played.
"It wasn't the start I wanted with a bogey on the first hole, but I felt like I got my bearings after that first hole," said Stoll. "I came in strong, but Alena was just playing really good golf. It was a tough match, but it was nice to play well on the back."
Roberta Liti rounded out the day's final group and ended the day in solo 3rd. Liti has finished her last three events in the top-4 and is currently second on the Epson Tour in scoring average, only behind Sharp. She has continued to impress and has had one of the more impressive seasons, despite not being able to get into the winner's circle. Liti currently sits at No. 6 on the Race for the Cards standings and knows her time is coming soon.
"I have been playing great. I am very confident because my game has been so good all around," said Liti. "I can only walk away from these past weeks with big positives. Obviously, I am chasing a win, but I know my time will come, and I think I just need to be patient. If I keep putting myself in these positions, I will get used to being in that position, and it will eventually turn into a win."
Rounding out the top five are Robyn Choi and Cassie Porter, who both finished the Champions Fore Change Invitational at -9.
Cassie Porter (-11, T4) on a top-5 finish at the Champions Fore Change Invitational:
“I think I have been playing really good. It is a good confidence builder finishing in the top 5. I have had a pretty rough season and this is my decent result hopefully it leads to some good momentum that I can capitalize on.”
Auston Kim (-8, T9) on having the round of the day:
“It is a great feeling after I did not play so well yesterday. I had a good start today and I have hit some really good shots. I have really been struggling with putting three good rounds together so I know what I need to work on but also I know my best isn’t here yet so that is really encouraging.”
Daniela Iacobelli (-9, T6) on a top-10 finish after a few missed cuts:
“Now is my favorite time of the year. The first half of the year is kind of like a warm up for me. Once we get to second half of the year, those are all my favorite courses and fun courses. I am super excited to get going on the second half of the year.”