Caroline Westrup (Baerum, Norway) applied for a job as an assistant golf coach and was ready to quit professional golf four weeks ago. Good thing she didn’t quit as she posted a 2-under 69 on Sunday to win the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at 12-under 272. In her 62nd career start, Westrup earned her first career professional victory.
By virtue of winning the largest purse in the history of the Symetra Tour and pocketing $31,500, Westrup vaults from 55th to 14th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list.
“This is everything I have ever dreamed of and more,” said the 29-year-old Westrup. “Finally, finally, I can say that I won my first professional event.”
Westrup’s longtime friend Dani Holmqvist (Stockholm, Sweden), who was playing in the group in front, took the outright lead on hole 12 with a birdie to move to 12-under. Holmqvist later stumbled with a bogey on 14 and a bogey on 16 to drop to 10-under. Meanwhile, Westrup made a tough up-and-down par on 16 to remain at 11-under. After a par on 17, Westrup hit her approach into 18 to six feet and drained a birdie to put an exclamation point on the win.
“First of all, I was shaking so much over that putt, I was really nervous,” said Westrup. “I just told myself not to hit it hard. After I hit the approach on 18, my caddie Rick told me ‘let’s end with a birdie’ and I just couldn’t have been more happy when it went in.”
Westrup has two top 10 finishes this year, but she missed the cut in her last three starts and after the PHC Classic in Milwaukee Westrup seriously contemplated giving up golf.
“When I got home from Milwaukee, I was almost to the point where I wanted to quit and start a new career,” said Westrup, who had her eye on becoming a college coach. “When I went home, I was able to practice, workout and spend time with friends and family.”
“It’s funny, a lot of people told me that I was going to go out and win the next event and here I am today,” continued Westrup. “It’s crazy thinking a couple weeks ago I was going to quit golf. Thank god I didn’t.”
Westrup is now just $3,417 behind tenth on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with five events still remaining.
“This is a life changer for sure,” said Westrup. “I put myself in good position to earn my full LPGA Tour card for next year.”
Westrup has played on the LPGA Tour with conditional status for each of the last two years.
When Westrup checked her phone following the trophy cremony, she found a text from a special friend and mentor, LPGA star Suzann Pettersen. It was short and sweet, but a perfect cap to the day. Pettersen wrote, “congrats and great job”.
Holmqvist carded a 1-under 70 on Sunday to finish solo second to earn $19,376. She moves from 17th to sixth on the Volvik Race for the Card money list.
GIULIA MOLINARO MOVES TO #1 AND NOW ASSURED LPGA CARD: Giulia Molinaro posted a 1-under 70 to finish third at 9-under 275. She moves to No. 1 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with $66,732. She has guaranteed a spot in the final top 10 and will be playing on the LPGA Tour in 2016. Even after learning she had secured a spot in the final top 10, Molinaro still says that something is missing.
“I knew coming in that this was a big event and if you win it is like winning two events,” said Molinaro, who has nine top 10 finishes. “Hopefully at one point before the end of the year I can seal the deal and get a win, I want that so badly.”
“I didn’t know that the deal was sealed for the LPGA, so I am very happy to hear that.”
Molinaro struggled on the LPGA Tour last year and is pleased with the strides she has made this year on the Symetra Tour.
“I’ve learned a lot this year and I am a significantly better now,” said Molinaro. “The Symetra Tour has given me the perfect stage to feel pressure, but not be so stressed out so I could do all the technical work.”
Molinaro made 18 starts on the LPGA Tour last year and made eight cuts. She’s excited to get another crack at the top players in the world.
“The LPGA is where I want to be and that is where every golfer wants to be,” said Molinaro. “It is an incredible stage with incredible tournaments with the best in the world. A huge part of who I am is what I learned on this Tour (Symetra Tour).”