Sept. 11, 2011
ALBANY, N.Y., Sept. 11, 2011 - Rookie Sydnee Michaels put the exclamation point on her first professional season today with a win at the season-ending $120,000 Price Chopper Tour Championship presented by SEFCU.
Today's win marked back-to-back victories for the UCLA graduate, who won two weeks ago in Vidalia, Ga. She stormed through the rain-soaked course at Capital Hills at Albany today with a final-round 5-under 65 to win by one shot at 8-under 202.
"Today was a big day and my caddie said, `Let's just go have a blast today,'" said Michaels, 22, of Temecula, Calif., who pocketed $16,800 for her win and grabbed honors as the LPGA Futures Tour's Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year.
"I took the lead because I was having fun and making good shots," added Michaels, who joined the tour this spring. "The pressure was on the other girls to come up and beat me today."
The rookie carded four consecutive birdies on holes 5 through 8, nearly acing the 153-yard par-3 seventh hole with a shot that landed one inch from the hole. She added a fifth birdie from four feet on the 14th hole. Michaels cruised through her bogey-free round hitting 14 greens and rolling in 27 putts after starting the day four shots off the lead.
"This win was way tougher than the last one," said Michaels' caddie, Lorcan Morris. "The last one, she won by eight shots, but this one, she had to go out and win it. She's the complete package as a player, but mainly, she just has it between the ears."
Michaels edged out Jessi Gebhardt of Chandler, Ariz., who also posted a final-round score of 65 for her career-best, runner-up finish of 7-under 203, while three-time tournament winner Mo Martin of Altadena, Calif., carded a 3-under 67 to finish third at 5-under 205.
"I haven't really been in this situation before but I figured I was up there [on the leaderboard] when the cameras came out on the course," said Gebhardt, 25, a second-year pro out of Oregon State University.
Gebhardt also recorded five birdies in her bogey-free round and said she was "going for a hole-in-one" on the par-3 finishing hole as she chased Michaels' lead. Her 8-iron on the 174-yard hole landed 10 feet from the cup, which she converted for birdie and runner-up honors.
Chasing her LPGA Tour card for the first time, Martin was determined to finish strong in the season-ending tournament and conclusion of the "J Golf Race For The Card." With wind picking up throughout the day, Martin hit only eight greens, but scrambled with 23 putts in her final round. The sixth-year pro birdied three consecutive holes, Nos. 5-7, saved par from 16 feet on another hole, and carded nine straight pars on the back nine.
"I didn't hit as many greens as I would have liked, but I only got in the rough twice today, which is a big deal on such a wet golf course," said Martin, who won a few weeks ago in Richmond, Va. "This a game that anything can happen and it's not over until the proverbial Fat Lady sings."
But while the mood was celebratory as the top 10 players "graduated" to the 2012 LPGA Tour, today was memorable for many reasons, added Michaels.
She had earned her second professional win at the conclusion of her short career on the LPGA Futures Tour. She had earned top rookie honors and her card to play on the 2012 LPGA Tour. And she had won on a day in the state of New York that most Americans were thinking about one of the darkest times in modern history.
"I watched the 9/11 tributes this morning on TV and I know there's something way bigger than this happening today," said the rookie. "All day, I felt like I was playing for my country. And that's so special."
This story was written by Lisa Mickey of the LPGA Futures Tour.
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