Marissa Steen wins Guardian Retirement Championship in sudden death

Marissa Steen rallies, wins tournament in playoff

jdill@bradenton.comApril 28, 2014 

MANATEE -- Marissa Steen didn't blink when opportunity presented itself.

The third-year LPGA Symetra Tour pro from West Chester, Ohio, began Sunday's final round of the 2014 Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay Country Club in a tie for eighth place.

She played the Donald Ross-designed course in 3-under par 69 to get into a playoff with Orlando's Cindy Feng after the pair finished the 54-hole tournament with 3-under par 213 totals.

Then she traded pars with Feng until sticking an approach within 3 feet on the fifth sudden death playoff hole.

Consequently, Steen buried the birdie and collected $15,000 for winning her first Symetra Tour title.

"This is my third playoff, so I've been there before and I've put myself in position," Steen said. "So to finally get the job done and to get the first professional win of my career means a ton."

Steen converted a 10-footer on the par-5 18th hole in regulation to pull within one shot of Feng at the time.

Feng, though, bogeyed the par-4 15th to fall back into a tie with Steen.

And with her previous playoff experience, which included a seven-hole affair last year, Steen remained patient.

"It goes to show you just need to be consistent, and then two, you have to make birdie to win pretty much," Steen said. "You've got to hit the shots under pressure and I'm glad I could do that (Sunday)."

That pressure shot came in the fifth playoff hole from 85 yards. Steen said it was a perfect yardage for her to deliver a ¾ gap wedge that nestled just a few feet past the pin.

Meanwhile, Feng found her layup shot in trouble. She was in the trees to the left, short of the creek, and spotted an area just short right of the green to land.

"I had a wedge in, so I said, 'I can just fly it over the trees,'" Feng said. "But at that point, that's all I could do. I gave it away a long time ago. ... To be honest, she was playing much better than me. That

was obvious just by the way she was attacking pins and I was just left and right, and just trying to scramble. I'm not trying to play defensively, but I did during the playoff. And you just can't win the tournament doing that."

Feng's shot, though, didn't alter the 24-year-old Steen's concentration in delivering a pinpoint accurate approach.

"That gave me confidence and I had a perfect yardage in," Steen said. "I was actually a little closer than the previous five or six times I played this hole (Sunday), including regulation. I had the same number every time. And I hit some good shots, but this one, I was one club less and it was a perfect yardage."

Feng left her chip shot short, while Steen converted.

Both players had chances to secure the title earlier in the playoff, but Feng lipped out a birdie putt and Steen had one birdie bid slide wide of the hole. Nonetheless, Steen kept grinding until the opening arrived to nail down her first-ever championship.

Entering the week, Steen was fifth on the money list. Getting consistent results, including a victory, early in the year is sure to pay dividends when the season concludes and 10 LPGA Tour cards are awarded.

And based off history -- the previous two champions secured LPGA Tour cards at the end of the year with top 10 money list finishes -- Steen is heading in the right direction.

"We can say it's an omen, I'm not mad at that," Steen said. "I think the first one is the toughest. You can look at Bubba (Watson) at the Masters. He had already won, so this year he comes back and he's like, 'Well I already have a green jacket, so what's there to lose?' He was really confident in the moment. So I'm hoping when I put myself in this position again to have the same result."

Steen had three runner-up finishes.

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