September 07, 2014 –
Winner Olivia Jordan-Higgins after sinking the final putt.
MAYETTA, Kan., September 7, 2014 – Golf delivered an uppercut to Olivia Jordan-Higgins last year when she missed receiving her LPGA Tour Card by just $114. On Sunday, Jordan-Higgins punched back with a 5-under 67 to win the Prairie Band Casino & Resort Charity Classic presented by Toyota at Firekeeper Golf Course. She finished with a three-day total of 12-under 204 to win by three strokes.
“I don’t think it has truly sunk in, but I am definitely feeling over the moon excited,” said Jordan-Higgins. “I’ve been waiting all year for this and it has definitely been a long uphill battle, but I got there eventually.”
The Jersey, Channel Islands UK native, who started the day two shots off the lead, found her rhythm early with back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth holes to tie Becca Huffer for the lead. She took the outright lead with a birdie on six and then extended her lead with a birdie on eight.
Jordan-Higgins took a two shot lead onto the back nine and never relinquished it. She made birdie on 11 to stretch the lead and then made her lone bogey of the day on the par-5 14th. Jordan-Higgins sealed the championship with a birdie on 17 to take a three-stroke lead to the 18th.
She calmly two-putted on the 18th green to win her second career Symetra Tour event.
“It certainly made it a lot easier having a three shot lead. To win out here is the greatest feeling ever.”
The $15,000 payout moves Jordan-Higgins into striking distance at No. 18 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with two events remaining. She has now totaled $29,277 this year.
“I was two back at the start of the day and knew I had a challenge on my hands with Wei-Ling and Becca. I just made a couple early birdies and that eased the pressure and let me have fun.”
Jordan-Higgins was eighth on the money list last year going into the final two events of the year, but missed the cut in both the Volvik Championship and the Symetra Tour Championship and therefore slipped to No. 11 and missed getting her LPGA Tour card by the slimmest of margins.
“I won my first professional event last year (Credit Union Classic in Syracuse, N.Y.) and this is my second and it feels ten times sweeter. Purely because of the struggles I went through. I was mad at golf for a very long time after finishing 11th on the money list last year. I’ve really had to work hard mentally to get back to where I am and start believing in myself again. This win has confirmed it and it is amazing.”
Jordan-Higgins, who is the only professional golfer from Jersey, Channel Islands UK, had Jeff Heikkinen as her caddie this week. He is a Tour caddie from Kiawah, her home course in Charleston, S.C. where she went to college (Charleston Southern).
“I want it (LPGA) so bad and I have a tendency to try too hard. Having Jeff on my bag has been massive for me. He is so relaxing and calming that I have no choice but to have fun.”
Jordan-Higgins will play next week in the Garden City Charity Classic and at the Symetra Tour Championship in Daytona Beach.
“I have to keep doing what I am doing, it’s working. I just have to stay patient and not worry about where I am on the money list.”
Min Lee, Mallory Blackwelder and Sara-Maude Juneau finished in a three-way tie for second at 9-under 207.
Lee moved from 13th to ninth on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with $38,487.
“I putted pretty good today,” said Lee. “Every tournament is important and there is a lot of pressure but my caddie helped a lot.”
Blackwelder moved from ninth to eighth on the money list with $39,487.
“If someone would have asked me if I would take a tie for second coming into the week, I probably would have said yes,” said Blackwelder. “I still don’t think that this locks me (into top-10), but it definitely helps take a little pressure off.”
Juneau jumped from 17th to tenth on the money list.
“I was in better position today in the fairways and I just had one bad hole,” said Juneau, who played on the LPGA Tour last year. “I stayed pretty consistent and I made some good putts.
KWAK WINS POTAWATOMI CUP: Min Seo Kwak made her 16th consecutive cut yesterday on the line and fired a 3-under 69 on Sunday to close at even par for the weekend.
She finished in a tie for 38th.
Kwak won the inaugural Potawatomi Cup and was awarded an $18,000 bonus check during the trophy ceremony.
Kwak will now head home to Atlanta, Georgia to prepare for the Symetra Tour Championship, from September 18-21 at LPGA International.
Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Council members with Min Seo Kwak (in blanket) are (left to right) Liana Onnen, Carrie O’Toole, and Hattie Mitchell who were on hand for the awards ceremony and offered a Pendleton blanket as a gift to Kwak.
MICHELLE SHIN HAS BEST ROUND OF YEAR AND WINS TIFOSI OPTICS: Michelle Shin, who was battling a cold for much of the day, fired a 6-under 66 to move from T48 to T13.
Shin wins the Tifosi Optics Low Round award and will receive a free pair of Tifosi Optics sunglasses. Tifosi Optics is the official sunglasses provider of the Symetra Tour.
Shin opened the day with three straight pars and then caught fire with five consecutive birdies between the fourth and eighth holes. Her only hiccup was a bogey on the par-3 13th hole.
Shin finished her best round of the year with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th holes.
“I had Carlie (Yadloczky) on the bag today, so I didn’t have to push so that felt nice,” said 23-year-old Shin. “These past two days have been tough coughing and pushing and today the weather was great and I was comfortable and I was hitting good shots.”
Yadloczky, a Symetra Tour member who missed the cut this week, decided to help her friend out and caddie.
“It helps so much having a friend on the bag especially with the two girls I was playing with since they both had caddies. It would have been tough to tread on by myself. On Friday, I was with Sara Brown and Shannon Fish and we all were pushing so it was kind of like a Friday morning ladies group. It was really nice to have Carlie there today.”
Shin played just nine holes on Wednesday and nine on Thursday, but practiced very minimally because of her cold. She was on the course for a total of just four hours before the tournament and didn’t practice putting once.
“I think this will be good for my confidence going into the last two weeks.”
She grinded through Friday and Saturday and had the round of her season on Sunday.
Other photos from today’s tournament taken by the Potawatomi News:
Fans on the course on hole number 10.
Signing off on the official score card for the tournament were golfers (left to right) Wei-Ling Hsu, Olivia Jordan-Higgins and Becca Huffer.
During the awards ceremony Steve E. Oritz, assistant general manager of the Prairie Band Casino & Resort, gave a check and the cup to Jordan-Higgins. Hattie Mitchell, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tribal Council Treasurer, is in the photograph, at left.
Michael Powell, assistant golf professional and manager at Firekeeper Golf Course, was mentioned during the awards ceremony as playing a big part in the success of the Symetra tournament this weekend. Randy Towner, golf pro and manager of Firekeeper, was also acknowledeged for his work along with many others who made the tournament a success.
(Left to right) Tim Kramer, an executive with the Symetra Tour, with Ortiz ealier today.
Ortiz and Dave Garcia, tournament director, both helped organize the Road to the LPGA.