Ladies European Tour member Jaclyn Sweeney battled periods of heavy rain and gusty winds to shoot a final-round 3-under par 68 and win the Credit Union Challenge Presented by SEFCU, Sunmark and BFB Benefit.
Sweeney fired rounds of 68-67-68 at the par-71 Capital Hills at Albany to record not only her first Symetra Tour victory, but her first win as a professional.
Sweeney, a rookie on the Symetra Tour, got off to a bit of a shaky start but three clutch putts to save par on the first three holes gave her just the confidence she needed.
“I really just tried to be positive,” said Sweeney. “It helped that I made putts to save par on the first three holes. “
Sweeney then stumbled at the par-4 fifth with a bogey to make the turn at 1-over par 37. After making the turn and falling four behind Tzu-Chi Lin, Sweeney knew it was time to make some birdies.
“I kind of played almost match-play,” said Sweeney, “and when she (Tzu-Chi Lin) made a birdie on 12, I kind of talked to myself and said okay I’m four down let’s see if I can make some more birdies.”
Sweeney did just what she wanted to do as she made clutch back-to-back birdies at the par-3 13th and par-4 14th to move within two of Lin. Sweeney then made another birdie on the par-3 16th and went into the difficult par-3 18th tied for the lead with Olivia Jordan-Higgins.
Plagued by negative thoughts of how she played the 18th hole in the practice round, Sweeney was determined to hit a crisp 7-iron close and give herself an opportunity to win.
“I just wanted to hit a good shot and not chunk it because I chunked all my shots in the practice round,” said Sweeney. “They had pushed the tees up before because the pins were in the back and they pushed them back today. I knew it was a 7-rion, it was about 148 yards and I just thought I had to hit it solid, I don’t want to hit it a little bit left.”
Sweeney hit her 7-iron perfect to four-feet from the hole and shook off nerves to make the birdie putt and capture the win.
A former member of the LPGA Tour, Sweeney earned a one-stroke victory over Olivia Jordan-Higgins. Jordan-Higgins’ runner-up finish this week marks a career-best finish on the Symetra Tour and serves as a big confidence booster heading into the next three consecutive events.
“I kind of know what it feels like to be in this position and I know what it feels like when I’m playing which is the key that I have been trying to find,” said Jordan-Higgins. “I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to play well this year and I figured out just relaxing is the big key and staying patient.”
The Symetra Tour heads to South Bend, Ind. next week for the inaugural Four Winds Invitational followed by the Eagle Classic in Richmond, Va.