On Friday Jiwon Jeon was celebrating her 26th birthday, on Sunday she was taking home her first career Epson Tour victory at the Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship. Jeon started the day one-shot back of the lead but once she took control of the lead, she never looked back.
The now 26-year-old started her final round looking to make a push early to put pressure on the 36-hole leader, Roberta Liti. Jeon went into the second hole one-shot back and left the green with a one-shot lead. Liti would double bogey the second hole and move into T2.
“I just really had to stay patient,” said Jeon. “I made birdie on No.5 which is a tough hole so that gave me more confidence going into the rest of the round.”
A double bogey on No.8 would move Jeon back towards the rest of the field, but it did not seem to stop her momentum. In her next ten holes she would birdie four times and looked to be in complete control of her game. Her only hiccup on the back nine was on No.15 after hitting her tee shot in the penalty area, but Jeon was able to get up and down to save her bogey and keep her lead heading into the last three holes. As she came up No.17 the lead was only one-shot but a birdie on the par 5 would make it a two-shot lead and all but seal the deal. A par on the last would solidify the win for Jeon, winning the tournament by two-shots.
"I had a double which was pretty hard," said Jeon. "I was still even par after that hole and there was more golf to come. I tried to really focus on my game and my gameplan. I was trying to stay in the present and when I had my opportunities, I was able to make them."
The newest Epson Tour champion will be teeing it up next week at the inaugural Champions Fore Change Invitational in New Bern, North Carolina. Jeon feels good about her game heading into next week and is excited to keep playing.
"This is the best birthday present ever and my game feels really good," said Jeon. "It just gave me a lot of confidence and a lot of hype. Winning on your birthday weekend is just crazy, but I am very proud of myself for what I did this week, and I will keep trying to that going forward.”
Alyaa Abdulghany tried to make charge at the leader but fell just short coming down the stretch. Abdulghany would card a bogey-free 68 (-5) that would move her into T2 to finish her tournament. The top-10 finish would be her third of the season and moves her to No.11 on the Race for the Card.
"I was just trying to push myself today," said Abdulghany. "I know I can make some putts and hit some good shots, I just had to stick with my plan and take advantage of what I had. It is a tough course, the stretch of 4, 5, and 6 is a really hard stretch on the front nine and the back nine is tight. So, I am happy with how I played.”
Lindy Duncan was in the final group with Jeon but was just not able to get anything going for her final round. Duncan had fired a 67 (-6) in round two but was not giving herself many opportunities to match that number and make a push up the leaderboard. Despite the lack of chances, she was still able to post a red number and finish the tournament T2 at -8.
"I was struggling with my driver a little bit so I didn’t have as many opportunities as I should have," said Duncan. "The week overall was fantastic; it is a course where you need to be on your game to compete so I feel like I am on my game heading forward."
Rounding out the top five were Roberta Liti finishing 4th (-7) and Min A Yoon and Haylee Harford finishing T5 (-6) respectively.
Agathe Laisne (-4, T11) on another great final round:
"I really just try to make the cut so I am not stressed and then I become really relaxed for the final round. I think I am going to try and be more relaxed in all my rounds going forward and see how that goes for me.”
Nishtha Madan (-5, T7) on her -5 final round:
"I was really just trying to focus on hitting one shot at a time. I didn’t really have any goals or expectations for my round today, just kind of went out and played my game. A few putts dropped early and ended up making seven birdies today, so the putter was really hot. If I had just been a little tighter with my long game I think it would have been a pretty special round.