Stephanie Meadow took a giant step towards regaining her LPGA Tour card when she sank a 40-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to claim her maiden Symetra Tour win in the IOA Championship in California.
Tied for fifth overnight, seven shots behind Sweden’s Jenny Haglund on two under par, the Jordanstown native expected to have to shoot in the 60s to have a chance of victory at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon — midway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
But as Haglund limped to an eight-over-par 80 and tied seventh, Meadow’s two-under 70 was enough to force a playoff with Carleigh Silvers on four-under.
As a result of her monster birdie putt in sudden death, she earned $15,000 and moved up to second in the money list with $19,587 after the first two events, just $510 behind “Race for the Card” leader Lauren Kim.
“It has been a long road for me so the hard work pays off,” Meadow said. “It just feels amazing right now.”
The top 10 in the money list at the end of the season earn LPGA Tour cards and with 10th place taking $63,023 in 2017, Meadow still has work to do.
“I thought if I was going to be in a playoff, I probably would have had to shoot seven-under to catch her,” she said of her hopes of catching Haglund on the final day.
“It happens, people have tough days on the last day and if you just stay steady, you never know what can happen."
As for her winning birdie, which Silvers failed to match, she said: “To make it, and it was dead centre, was pretty awesome.
“Honestly, I hadn’t made anything all week so for those two putts—No. 18 in regulation and then the playoff hole—to go in, was pretty special. I guess I was saving them up.”
Meadow erased an early double bogey at the sixth with two birdies to go out in level par.
She started the back nine with a bogey but birdied the 13th, 16th and 18th to set the target at four-under.
Silvers was five-under playing the last but finished with a bogey and she was warm in her congratulations after the playoff.
“She made her putt and that was awesome,” said Silvers. “She earned that, making that long birdie putt. That was pretty cool, so congratulations to her. I just wanted to give mine a chance and I did, it really looked pretty good until the last two feet.”
It is the first Symetra Tour win for Meadow, the former four-time All-American at the University of Alabama.
Her victory is also the first on the Symetra Tour for a woman from Northern Ireland and she will be joined on the second tier women’s tour by Leona Maguire, who also plans to play LPGA Tour events on sponsors’ invitations, later this year.