Matilda Castren becomes first player from Finland to win on LPGA, and does it in her 15th start

Matilda Castren became the first player from Finland to win on the LPGA, emerging from a thick Marine Layer as a rising European star.

Matilda Castren becomes first player from Finland to win on LPGA, and does it in her 15th start

Matilda Castren became the first player from Finland to win on the LPGA, emerging from a thick Marine Layer as a rising European star.

“I knew one day it would be me,” said an emotional Castren, “but you didn’t think it was going to be so soon.”

Castren, who began the day two strokes back of Min Lee, started out blazing hot at chilly Lake Merced, stuffing her approach shots for easy birdies on the first three holes and then converting a short eagle putt on the par-5 fifth. She was 5 under through five holes and looking like someone who’d been in this position one thousand times over. In truth, this was only her 15th start on the LPGA.

“I think a lot of people couldn’t sleep tonight,” said Castren, noting that she teed off at 1 a.m. in Finland.

The seemingly unflappable 26-year-old made the turn in 30 and built a three-shot lead over Taiwan’s Lee, who looked to become the first player to win on the Symetra Tour and LPGA in consecutive starts.

As Castren cooled off with pars on the back nine, the easygoing Lee tightened things up, pulling to within one after a birdie on the par-5 15th.

A short miss for par on the par-3 17th, however, gave Lee her first bogey of the day and put her two back with only the closing par 5 to play. Lee’s eagle putt on the 18th from just off the green from around 25 feet, came up about an inch short and the expressive player dropped to her knees.

Castren then calmly dropped in a final birdie putt to cap off a glorious 65 that put her at 14 under for the tournament, two head of Lee. It was a two-player contest for most of the day, and they only dropped one shot between them.

“I mean, winning a tournament you have to practice,” said Lee, “and this is a great practice. Maybe after couple times I will be there.”

So Yeon Ryu and Hannah Green, both majors winners, finished in a share of third at 8 under.

Castren, a 2020/21 LPGA Tour rookie, won seven times at Florida State and collected her first LPGA title on the same day another former Seminole, Morgane Metraux, won on the Island Resort Championship on the Symetra Tour.

Prior to this week, Castren’s career-best finish on the LPGA was a tie for eighth at the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship in Georgia. She tied for 30th at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open at nearby Olympic Club.

“I hope it inspires a lot of the younger girls to reach for their goals and just aim high, the sky is the limit,” said Castren. “I think I’m a perfect example of that. I’m the first one to win from Finland, and I bet a lot of people didn’t think it was possible. I had my doubts myself, too.

“But I just want to send a message that anything is possible and just to reach for your goals.”

Celine Boutier bolted up the board with a closing 64 to move into a share of sixth. Jodi Ewart Shadoff hit 18 greens in a final-round 65 that included six birdies in the last eight holes to also vault into the top 10.

Michelle Wie West played the weekend for the first time since coming back from maternity leave. Wie West, who is a member at Lake Merced, shot 69-71 over the weekend to finish tied for 40th.

One week after suffering a heartbreaking loss at the U.S. Women’s Open, Lexi Thompson finished with a 74 to place tied for 34th.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Last one in: Zack Sucher awarded final spot in U.S. Open at Torrey Pines

Zack Sucher got the call from the USGA that he's been awarded the 156th and final spot in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Last one in: Zack Sucher awarded final spot in U.S. Open at Torrey Pines

Zack Sucher finished the Hilton Head sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open as the first alternate.

The fifth and final spot there was decided in a three-man playoff between Akshay Bhatia, Ben Martin and Sucher. Bhatia, 19, ended up taking the final spot to get into the national championship.

Six days later, Sucher got the call from the U.S. Golf Association that he, too, is headed to Torrey Pines. Sucher was awarded the 156th and final spot in the 121st U.S. Open.

Sucher, 34, has played the course before. He tied for 36th at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open. He missed the cut there in 2015 and 2017.

He has a win on the Korn Ferry Tour this season. He’s played in nine PGA Tour events but this will be his first U.S. Open. In fact, this will be his first entry into any of golf’s major championships.

Sucher was the Conference USA Player of the Year at the University of Alabama in 2008 and turned pro in 2009 but he’s battled injuries over the years.

After a second-place finish at the 2019 Travelers, Sucher detailed the financial struggles he had endured. That $633,009 payday accounts for about a third of his career earnings of $1,841,329.

Now, he’s heading to his first major.

Source : Golf Week More   

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