Leah Wigger Captures Three-Stroke Victory at 2012 Island Resort Championship
Leah Wigger opened her final round at the Island Resort Championship with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 1 & 2 and never looked back en route to a three-stroke victory over Victoria Elizabeth, Vicotria Park and Nicole Jeray. Wigger's win is the second of her career on the Symetra Tour and first since 2008 when she won the AMERICAN SYSTEMS Invitational in Daytona Beach, Fla. She shot a final-round 2-under 70 to finish at 7-under for the tournament. After her two birdies out of the gate, Wigger went on to card only one bogey on No. 9 and followed it up with her third and last birdie of the day on No. 10.
Wigger said her strong start scared her at first, saying that opening up with birdies tends to go against a feeling she likes to have at the beginning of her rounds.
"Sometimes I don't like starting out birdie," said Wigger. "I'm a little superstitious. But draining that second birdie I think helped a lot."
Wigger sank a 30-foot put on the par 4 No. 2 to take a three-stroke lead on Aimee Neff. But Neff fought back, carding birdies on Nos. 4 and 8 to make things all square at the turn. The two good friends said they were happy at that point to give the crowd a show.
"We actually said I guess we're trying to make this interesting for everybody," said Wigger. "It was going to be a nine-hole shootout at the end and it worked out in my favor."
Neff would go on to card three bogeys on the back nine to slip out of contention while Wigger followed up her bogey on No. 9 with her last birdie of the day on the par 4 No. 10.
"That definitely helped because I bogeyed No. 9 and hit it in the water off the tee," said Wigger. "So to be able to bounce back with a birdie definitely helped."
Down the stretch, Wigger admitted to not looking at any scoreboards and did not know where she stood until she found herself in trouble on No. 18.
"I don't like looking at scoreboards," said Wigger. "I actually had to ask Vicky when I hit it in the bunker on No. 18, 'where do I stand?' so I could make my decision whether I had to go for it or not because I really didn't want to hit that shot."
Fellow Tour player Victoria Alimonda Lovelady and friend of Wigger's was on the bag for her on Sunday after she missed the cut.
"It made my decision a lot easier because it wasn't a good time to be stupid, I guess you could say, and go for the pin just so I could have a birdie," said Wigger. "Knowing that I had a three-shot lead made it a lot easier."
Wigger played her final shots safe and closed out the tournament to earn her second-career Symetra Tour victory. A group of friends stormed the 18th green and doused her with plenty of water to get her soaked in victory.
"It was a bit cold," Wigger said of the celebratory shower. "I can't believe they did it in my white shorts, but what are friends for?"
Wigger said it was the highlight of her week and that the second win of her career was bigger than the first.
"I think more important because I feel like more than anything my faith has grown stronger since then," said Wigger. "So just in that respect it's so much sweeter."
Wigger was quick to point out that in both wins she came into the final round with the lead and that she's proud of her ability to finish off an entire weekend of work.
"Both times I've won, I came in with the lead. So I know I can close!"
Asked how she'll celebrate No. 2, she said with her luck, she might be found in the casino at the Island Resort.
"I still haven't spent my $200 so I might have to go do that."
Friendly Face on the Bag...Leah Wigger had some calming company throughout her final 18 holes of her win at the Island Resort Championship and happened to come from an arrangement that came through at the last minute.
Tour mate and friend of Wigger's Victoria Alimonda Lovelady missed the cut on Saturday and wanted some more action from Sweetgrass Golf Club.
"She called me when I was driving over and was like 'hey, can I caddie for you today?'" said Wigger. "I was like 'sure I would love that.' I knew having her on the bag she would keep me calm and tell me some good things to think about. So it was fantastic."
"Volvik Race for the Card" Continues At Island Resort Championship
The Symetra Tour's annual "Volvik Race For the Card" continued with the conclusion of the Island Resort Championship. The "Volvik Race for the Card" spotlights movement on the Tour's 2012 season money list as players jockey for position among the top-10 money winners. Players finishing in the top-10 at the conclusion of the tournament season will earn exempt status on the 2013 LPGA Tour.
Wigger came into this week in Harris just on the cusp of the top-10 and ended her streak of sitting on the outside looking in. With her win on Sunday and her $16,500 winner's check, she shoots up to No. 2 in the Volvik Race for the Card rankings and sits just over $3,000 behind current leader Esther Choe. Wigger increased her 2012 earnings to $30,249 with her victory.
"It definitely takes a lot of pressure off, knowing I shoot up all the way up to No. 2," said Wigger. "It also gives me a little bit of free will to just go out and play golf and make it to the top."
Wigger paid homage to the Race's title sponsor and pointed out how big of an impact their visibility plays for spectators that come out to Symetra Tour events.
"It's just great to have Volvik as such a great sponsor, from the golf balls, the bibs and everything," said Wigger. "For people to know what players are playing in the top-10 and they can spot them, it's easy for spectators and great for the game."
She said she thinks she'll be able to manage being so close to the top of the rankings and that sticking to what has gotten her to this point will be key to staying there.
"Just staying in my own way in my head and not over think anything," said Wigger. "I think the key for me is just staying in my routine and focus on that I think I'll be alright."
Notable moves this week were Victoria Elizabeth who made her way into the top-10 after her T2 finish. She jumped from No. 12 to No. 5. Nicole Jeray finished alongside Elizabeth at 4-under par and made a move from No. 25 to No. 12.
At the conclusion of the Island Resort Championship, players in the top 10 spots on the money list are as follows: 1. Esther Choe of Scottsdale, Ariz., $33,750; 2. Leah Wigger of Louisville, Ky., $30,249; 3. Megan McChrystal of Stuart, Fla., $22,898; 4. Jean Chua of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, $22,849; 5. Victoria Elizabeth of Dayton, Ohio, $20,554; 6. Sara Brown of Tucson, Ariz., $18,881; 7. Lauren Doughtie of Suffolk, Va. $18,607; 8. Kristie Smith of Perth, Australia, $18,058; 9. Mi Hyang Lee of Incheon, South Korea, $17,251; 10. Sara Maude Juneau of Quebec, Canada, $17,068
Of Note... Players in the Volvik Race for the Card top-10 fared well this weekend. Four players finished in the top 15. Juneau was the top finisher at T8, Sara Brown ended her weekend at T11, while Jean Chua and Mi Hyang Lee finished off at T14...No players on Sunday received any additional cash from the tournament, the final round saw no eagles or hole