Special to The Sun
LONGWOOD, Fla. —
Kendall Dye tied the Alaqua Country Club course record on Monday by shooting a 6-under-par 65 to win the IOA Golf Classic by three strokes. Dye, a 2005 Edmond Santa Fe graduate, finished at 11-under-par for the tournament to claim her first Symetra Tour victory.
Dye, who was playing in her 56th career Symetra Tour event, got over the hump by virtue of a flawless back nine that included four birdies and a chip-in eagle on the 16th hole At the Alaqua Country Club.
“It’s pretty surreal, I had good feelings and positive thoughts going into the day, but I was three shots back,” said Dye. “It was a pretty special day. It was a long day and it was Jesus on the back nine; I had just nine putts.”
Dye entered the day three shots back of Hannah Yun. She birdied the 10th hole and then made back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13.
The former Wolf seized complete control of her destiny with a birdie on 15 and an eagle on the 16th hole.
“My emotions were calm and it was pretty cool to finish strong and actually put a performance together and win.”
On the 18th hole, with a 3-stroke cushion, Dye had a short tap-in putt to seal the victory. She converted the par and then was doused with water from friends and fellow Symetra Tour players Sara Brown, Mallory Blackwelder and Calle Nielson.
“I really wanted to ace the 18th hole because I stuck it close all day and told my caddy that we were going to make a long one,” said Dye. “I was really glad that they stayed and celebrated with me.”
With the win, Dye skyrockets from 14th to second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list at $19,952 in earnings on the year.
“The win definitely takes the pressure off for the rest of the year. I still need to compete, I still need to play in hopefully all of the events, but now maybe I have a little leeway where I may not have to play 10 weeks in a row.”
The journey has been long and trying for Dye, who has played on the Symetra Tour since 2010.
“My mission every year is to come away with an LPGA Tour card and I’ve been to Q-School too many times so I’m looking at these 19 or 20 events as my Q-School,” said Dye. “I’ve got 60 rounds to play well and earn some money to get onto the next stage.”
Dye also received a free pair of Tifosi Optics sunglasses by having the lowest round of the day. Tifosi Optics is the official sunglasses provider of the Symetra Tour.
Yun, who led by one stroke after two rounds, shot an even-par 71 and finished in second place at 8-under for the tournament. She made back-to-back bogeys to open her round and never recovered.
With the second-place finish, Yun jumps into the top 10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list. She has earned $10,770 after four events this season.
Katelyn Sepmoree, a rookie on the Symetra Tour, finished third at 6-under. The Tyler, Texas native shot 1-over on the day.
LPGA Tour veteran Reilley Rankin fired a 1-under-par 70 on Monday to finish fourth in her first Symetra Tour event of the year.
PINRATH LOOMBOONRUANG SHOOTS 4-UNDER
One of the youngest players in the field, 18-year-old Pinrath Loomboonruang, from Thailand, had a strong final round Monday. She fired a 4-under-par 67 bogy-free round.
“My putting is getting better. Yesterday I tried to figure out my putting with video,” said Loomboonruang. “Today, I had 25 putts and yesterday I had 32 putts so I am getting more confident.”
Loomboonruang called this round her best round of the season. She moved from T34 at the start of the day and finished in a tie for 10th.
“I tried to just play fairways and greens and then make putts because this course is very narrow.”
VOLVIK RACE FOR CARD MONEY LIST
1) Cindy Feng $25,984
2) Kendall Dye, (Edmond Santa Fe HS) $19,952
3) Jennie Lee $18,378
4) Kim Kaufman $17,216
5) Marissa Steen $15,977
6) Megan McChrystal $12,314
7) Hannah Yun $10,770
8) Jackie Stoelting $10,075
9) Maude-Aimee Leblanc $8,857
10) Sara-Maude Juneau $8,478