A delay, extended play in a sudden-death playoff and an international flair highlighted this year’s Symetra Tour Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
Alejandra Llaneza, 31, of Mexico City, Mexico, won the trophy for the 2019 Garden City stop on Sunday, outlasting Mind Muangkhumsakul, of Banphai, Thailand, on the second playoff hole. Llaneza had the lead or a portion of the lead throughout the tournament.
Muangkhumsakul started the final round at 1 under Sunday, and shot a blistering round to finish regulation play in a tie with Llaneza at 10 under par.
Both golfers parred the first extra hole, but Llaneza parred the second while Muangkhumsakul bogeyed the hole to give Llaneza the title.
Stephanie Na, Adelaide, Australia, finished in third place.
The second round in the tournament had to be finished Sunday morning, before the final round. The round was suspended at 3:22 p.m. Saturday due to inclement weather, lasting two hours and 45 minutes. Play was suspended again at 7:59 p.m. due to darkness, with 48 golfers still on the course. The final round began at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
The win is the second for Llaneza on the Symetra Tour. Her first title came in Greenwood, S.C., at the 2015 Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic.
“It is very special, definitely took a lot of effort and focus to get it done,” said Llaneza, who concluded regulation at 10-under par. “Everyone played great and I’m very thankful. I took a little from that previous win, but mostly have been working on getting back to how I played when younger and that aggressive mentality just having fun.”
After missing the cut in eight of her last nine starts before venturing to Finney County for the Garden City Charity Classic, Llaneza settled into a groove to secure the wire-to-wire accomplishment. It now provides a fresh outlook on what the rest of the season could hold.
“That’s one of the good things about golf, it gives you a chance to start over every week,” Llaneza said. “I knew the need for a strong finish over the last four events. One of the days on the range, I found a good feeling and told myself I would go with it. I’m happy it paid off and that I was able to stay calm.”
Llaneza’s rookie year in turning professional was 2012 on the Symetra Tour, and in 2013 on the LPGA Tour.
The University of Arizona alumnus represented her native country in the 2016 Summer Olympics, finishing 44th.
With her win, Llaneza jumps to No. 29 in the Volvik Race for the Card with $37, 059 in total season earnings.
A career-low 9-under-par 63 for Muangkhumsakul in the final round included an 11-hole stretch where she carded 10 birdies and eventually forced the sudden-death playoff to decide the Garden City Charity Classic.
Despite the outcome, Muangkhumsakul was pleased to record her second runner-up of the season. The other came in June at The Forsyth Classic presented by Decatur Park District.
“I controlled my irons and the putter was good,” said Muangkhumsakul, who went 69-74-63 over three days. “It was OK for me to get the top-two. It seemed easy out there and I thought of how to make birdie on the hole. That’s all I focused on then when we finished that hole, cut it off and started again. I was also lucky to tee in the first group off with no wind — very lucky.”
The 132-player field for the Garden City Charity Classic competed in 54-hole stroke play, with the low 60 scores moving on to the final round. Total purse for the tournament is $175,000.
The Garden City stop is the 20th tournament on the 2019 “Road to the LPGA.” It is also the second tournament in the Million Dollar March — a stretch of five events to end the season with a cumulative purse of $1 million.
The Symetra Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and entered its 39th competitive season in 2019. With the support of its entitlement partner Symetra, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour.
Since Symetra’s inaugural sponsorship year in 2012, the Symetra Tour has grown from 16 tournaments and $1.7 million in prize money to $4.0 million in prize money awarded over the course of 23 events. With more than 600 alumnae moving on to the LPGA, former Symetra Tour players have won a total of 437 LPGA titles.
Follow the Symetra Tour on the web at www.SymetraTour.com, Facebook.com/Road2LPGA, Twitter.com/Road2LPGA, and YouTube.com/Road2LPGA.