LPGA Symetra Tour notebook | Tourney's top 3 making climb up money list

jdill@bradenton.comApril 28, 2014 

The top three finishers in this week's Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay Country Club kept themselves inside the top 10 of the money list. At the conclusion to the 2014 campaign, players that finish in the top 10 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list end up gaining a 2015 LPGA Tour card.

The big jumpers, based off their Sara Bay performance, were Therese Koelbaek (moved from 58th to 19th) and Rachel Rohanna (moved from 63rd to 21st). Champion Marissa Steen climbed three places from fifth to second, while Feng retains the top spot.

Nobody from the top 10 prior to this week's tournament was leapfrogged.

Players tame layout

This year's tournament featured the most under par rounds in the three-year history of the event. The inaugural tourney saw just six sub-72 rounds as inclement weather conditions mixed with slick, tricky greens wreaked havoc on the field in 2012. That number increased to 28 rounds under par last year as players grew more accustomed to the nuances in the Donald Ross design. And this year's tournament witnessed 29 rounds that were below par. That included Katie Kempter's tournament record 5-under par 67 in Saturday's second round.

Steen, who won the championship, posted the lone sub-70 round on Sunday. She finished with a 3-under par 69, which included a 10-footer on the par-5 18th to force a playoff with Cindy Feng that lasted five holes.

Still no wire-to-wire winner

For the third straight year, the Guardian Retirement Championship failed to produce a wire-to-wire winner. In 2012, Jacqui Concolino was in the lead after day one, before Esther Choe eventually claimed a four-shot victory.

In 2013, Isabelle Boineau held the 36-hole lead before losing to Christine Song in a playoff. And Feng held the lead after the first two rounds, only to lose to Steen in a five-hole playoff.

Local finishers

Just three local players made the cut following Saturday's second round, and here's how they fared in Sunday's final round: Bradenton's Ginger Howard posted her best round of the tournament. She carded a 1-over par 73 to finish with a 7-over par 223 total. IMG Academy alum Susy Benavides and Anya Alvarez, whose swing instructor is Jon Bullas out of Lakewood Ranch, didn't play as well. Benavides finished with a 77 on Sunday, while Alvarez ballooned to an 80. Alvarez started the tournament with rounds of 71-73, before Sunday's final round pushed her backward to a tie for 38th place.

Fan attendance improves

Golf fans rejoiced in the action as a sudden-death playoff occurred for the second consecutive year. A record 4,350 spectators took in the action over three days plus the pro-am day. Last season's totals were 3,450 fans over three days, with a peak crowd of 1,350 on Saturday.

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