Caroline Masson shot a final round 67 to break through for her first career LPGA victory at the Manulife LPGA Classic.
Masson started her day with a double bogey before rattling off nine birdies throughout the rest of her round to become the sixth Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2016 season. She started her Sunday three shots off of the lead and mounted the third biggest comeback of the year on the LPGA.
“It’s hard to believe,” said Masson. “I mean it really is. Obviously I was in a good position coming into today, and I was thinking, well, if I can shoot a really good round, I might have a chance, but I was totally not expecting it.”
The 27-year-old German admitted that her 2016 season had been a bit of a frustrating one. She made the cut in 14-of-21 starts (Previous best: T6, ANA Inspiration) before this week at Whistle Bear where she became the first German player to win on the LPGA since Sandra Gal at the 2011 Kia Classic.
“I always know that I can win a tournament on the LPGA,” Masson said. “I obviously also know that a lot of things have to go right for that. Golf is a funny game, and I was a little streaky this year. I played a lot of great golf, and I missed a lot of cuts and most of them actually by one shot which was really disappointing. It was a really frustrating period this year. And you know, it’s all about just keep working and believing that you can do it, and that’s what I did and that’s what my team helped me with.”
Masson has enjoyed success playing on the Ladies European Tour and was a winner in 2012 at the South African Women’s Open. She will head back to Europe to play in the Ladies European Masters on her home course in Germany before playing in the final LPGA major of 2016 at the Evian Championship.
“I mean it’s going to be huge, obviously, going back and playing next week,” said Masson. “I think it’s probably the promoter’s biggest dream come true that I could win this week and come home and play next week. So I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and people are going to be very excited.”
France’s Karine Icher, Australia’s Minjee Lee and Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea finished one-shot off the lead in a three-way tie for second. Defending champion Suzann Pettersen joined the top-two players in the Rolex Rankings, Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn, at 14-under.
The Manulife LPGA Classic donated a total of $447,567 this year to St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation. Spectators to this week’s tournament were encouraged to get involved and donate through the Manulife Match campaign. On Friday, the course was covered in red, as visitors sported the color to support Women’s Heart Health.
A total of roughly $1.6 million has gone to St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation since the tournament was introduced in 2012, surpassing the million dollar mark within four years.
Alena Sharp completed the two-week sweep as the low Canadian at both the CP Women’s Open and the Manulife LPGA Classic. Sharp followed her best career finish (4th) with another strong outing, going 9-under (T26) for the week at Whistle Bear in front of a home crowd.
She’ll take some time to reflect on her recent success both on the LPGA Tour and representing Canada at the Olympics.
“I feel like, okay, now I can relax for a week and enjoy my family tonight and get on the road tomorrow, drive, think about it for two days while we’re driving. But yeah, I do feel like now I can rest and really enjoy these last three weeks, because I didn’t really get to enjoy last week that much because you get here and you want to stay focused. So now I’m just going to enjoy playing well these last three weeks for sure.”
GLASS HALF FULL
Minjee Lee closed the final round at 4-under, tied at second for a total of 273 (70-69-66-68). Lee played a strong, consistent final round void of any bogeys and a second half of nine pars. “I started off well, I was 4-under through the first nine, but I guess I couldn’t quite get it done and she was one shot ahead of us.” Paired with Caroline Masson for the day, Lee said she “knew it was going to be pretty close.” Overall, Lee is taking a glass-half-full look at her finish this week, “I mean coming second is always worse than first, but it’s better than third.”
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“It was great to see a lot of people out here and especially a lot of juniors, and I think when we come to Canada, I think it’s probably the most juniors we see on any of our tour schedule, so it’s always good to see the future stars.” With a nod to the future, Ko says, “And at the end of the day, if we can inspire or make a kid want to play the game a bit more or love it even more, I think it’s a job well done. And that’s why we love being able to talk to these kids. They’re excited; we’re excited, so it’s really a win-win deal.”
– Lydia Ko on the young fans in Canada and paying it forward
“It seems like Canadian women’s golf is heading in the right direction. We have a lot of great young players coming up, and Golf Canada has been working hard getting these players developed, and they have everything — you know, really, they have great coaching, great nutritionists, they have great physio and workout, and it’s starting to show, I think. I think five years from now we’re going to have a lot of top players in the world and not just three of us this year, I think we’re going to keep adding to it. And it’s great to see. I want more Canadians out here.”
– Alena Sharp on the future of Canadian women’s golf
“I think maybe a little bit still adrenaline now. I think having a week off is probably a good thing, going into the last major of the year, rest up, work on my game a little bit, practice hard and hopefully get things to a good spot and hopefully I’ll be in contention in this last stretch of tournaments.”
– Brooke Henderson on taking a break after a long stretch of tournaments