MIDLAND, MI: A year after finishing fourth, the team of Cheyenne Knight and Elizabeth Szokol (aka the Elizabethan Knights) battled through a high-pressure system, which delayed final round play for nearly two hours, and a high-pressure environment created by their fellow competitors, to win the 2023 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. After breaking the tournament 54-hole scoring record with an impressive nine birdies on Friday, the two got off to what they considered a slow start on the final day. They carded only two birdies on the front and one more on No. 12 before the weather delay stopped any momentum the duo could build. An hour and a half later, they added another birdie on 15 to take a one-stroke lead heading into the last few holes. On 17, Matilda Castren sank a 15-foot putt for birdie to even things out before Knight responded with a 7-footer of her own to retake the lead. With one last hole to play, the tension from the two remaining teams was high. It was Castren who hit it closets to the pin on the final par 3, and after Szokol, Knight and partner Kelly Tan made par, she had the last opportunity to force a playoff.
“I don’t think we could look at each other. I think we were just looking away. It was out of our hands, so we were just looking away and waiting,” said Szokol of that moment. “She hit a really good putt that just slid right by the edge. We did all we could, and we were just waiting to see, which was a bit stressful having it out of our hands.”
When the champions did look at each other, they felt “Relief,” Knight laughed. “But just, I don’t know, pure joy I would say. You’re expecting Matilda to make that putt, and when it slid by the edge, it was just, like, whoa, we did it. It was hard going to the rain delay, two-shot lead coming back, and it evaporated really quickly. It was just surreal. It was, like, wow, we did it. We’ve been out here all day, but we did it. So it was just, yeah, pure joy.
With a final round 65 and 72-hole score of 257, Knight earns her second career victory after winning the 2019 Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America, while Szokol becomes the Tour’s seventh Rolex First-Time Winner. Castren and Tan once again take home a second-place finish after doing so in 2022.
“I think we both played great. We have good synergy on the course together. If I’m down, she picked me up, or if she was down, I picked her up every day,” said Tan. “It’s been overall a really fun week. Right now it sucks. I think when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will cherish the moments that we’ve been through the last few days, and I can only choose to take on the positives.”
Three teams finished tied for third including Emma Talley and Jodi Ewart Shadoff who ended their day with a 63 and a hole out from the fairway by Talley on 16 to put them in that position. Celine Boutier and Yuka Saso ended with an 8-underf 62, their lowest score of the event, while LPGA Tour rookies Celine Borge and Polly Mack both earned their first top-10 finish in their young careers.
Canadian Notes: Alena Sharp and teammate Sarah Kemp finished 8th, Maddie Szeryk and Lauren Hartlage 25th, Savannah Grewal and Annabelle Pancake T31 and Jasmine Ly and Kimberly Dinh 37th. Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson missed the cut.