With only three tournaments played in 2023, we’ve had a third player secure their first Epson Tour victory this week at the IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. Miranda Wang walked off No. 18 as the solo leader and new champion at -12. The 2023 Epson Tour rookie signed for a final round 70 consisting of three birdies and a lone bogey.
“On the front nine, I wasn’t really hitting the greens. I was just making a lot of up-and-downs; the putting really saved my life today,” said Wang. “I was just focusing on my game. The rest of my group were good players, and I knew they were going to make birdies, so I played my own golf.”
Before the season started, Wang got new clubs and said she wasn’t quite comfortable with them yet. She missed the cut at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic and Arizona Women’s Golf Classic but evidently felt better with the new sticks in Beaumont, California.
“This win is a confidence boost. Before this tournament, I missed the cut because I just got new clubs, and I wasn’t used to them,” said Wang. “After this tournament, I feel like I’m getting more used to them, getting to know the distances and the swing tempo. I’m confident going into next week.”
Natasha Andrea Oon was one stroke from forcing a playoff with Wang but unfortunately carded a bogey on No. 18. The 2023 Epson Tour rookie secured her second top-10 finish this season with a second-place, -11 finish at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon.
“Being in the last group, putts are 10 times harder. My hands were shaking the whole time,” said Oon. “It was so cool to see everyone compete for it, and I did feel the nerves, but hopefully next time I’ll be able to overcome it. But honestly, I’m really proud of myself for this week.”
In solo third was first-and-second round co-leader Maddi Caldwell-Young. After a lost ball on No. 16, Caldwell-Young signed for a final-round 73. The Georgia native finished the tournament -9.
“I wanted it so bad. I worked really hard, so I’m happy to have a third-place finish,” said Caldwell-Young. “It’s my highest on the [Epson] Tour so far, so I’m just going to keep building from it.”
Rounding out the top five, tied for fourth at -8, were Milagros Chaves and Laura Wearn. Chaves recorded the day's low round, signing for a -6 consisting of five birdies, an eagle, and a lone bogey. The Paraguay native carded an eagle on No. 4 of Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon's Champion's Course on both the second and final rounds. Wearn signed for a final round 69.
Laura Wearn (-8, T4) on confidence from a top-5 finish:
“It gives me a lot of confidence. I really didn’t feel like I played that great, I just got the ball in the hole. Hopefully I can figure a few things out and continue to do that.”
Sophie Hausmann (-7, T6) on another top finish at the IOA Championship:
“I feel like the numbers speak for themselves by now, but I do like to come back, although I’m hoping not to come back next year. Of course, I do have good memories, but I also think sometimes if you’re here every time finishing first or second, you start to have some expectations. That’s what my thing going into this week was – to really keep those low.”