Aronsson prevails over Parks

HARRIS – Sadena Parks managed to rally from her mistakes all afternoon when she needed to, and after her tee shot found the water on No. 18, it appeared she was poised to do it again.

Playing in the final group, and tied with Molly Aronsson-who finished the day at 1-under-par-heading into the final hole, Parks put herself in position to force a playoff with Aronsson. A five-foot par putt separated the two University of Washington alums.

However, Parks’ final rally would not come to fruition, as the ball lipped out of the cup after it was seemingly heading for the bottom of the hole.

As the crowd let out groans of disappointment and Parks stared into the sky in disbelief at her misfortune, Aronsson was being doused in water by her friends, celebrating her first career LPGA Symetra Tour victory, at the Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club, on Sunday.

“Being a college teammate of mine, I was happy either way,” Aronsson said about her thoughts before Parks’ putt. “If I had to do a playoff, if she won or I won, it’s pretty cool. She’s such an athlete and I look up to her a lot. We used to do sprints together on the same treadmill. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins soon.”

After Parks’ drive on the par-5 18th went wayward to the left, into the water, she put her third shot past the green, near the gallery. Still, she remained calm, even after she approached the ball and someone dropped something in the bleachers, causing a loud bang and forcing Parks to refocus and back off the ball. Despite the distractions and the frustration from putting her drive in the water, Parks put the ball five feet from the hole.

“I was very, very, nervous on that chip,” Parks said. “I knew I had to get it close to give myself an opportunity for a par, and luckily I did. I thought I could get it closer and I kind of held onto it and pushed it right, but it worked out great.”

On a day where Parks had to take a drop and managed to get up-and-down for a bogey from 195 yards out on the par-4 fifth, and chip in for par on the par-4 16th, converting a five-foot putt seemed like a foregone conclusion compared to the other saves she had to make on the day.

“All I was thinking was make it, keep it simple, and focus on the specific target on the hole,” Parks said about the putt. “I think I got too excited, so I just hit it a little bit too firm through the break and it cost me. Tough finish, really tough finish.”

With the constant wind providing an extra challenge for the links style course, the majority of the field struggled on the final day. Just 11 golfers managed to shoot even-par or better. Aronsson was one of those 11, shooting an even-par-72-finishing 1-under-par for the tournament-which was aided by her strong start, where she birdied three of her first four holes.

“The course has been playing really hard with this wind and the greens have been picking up,” Aronsson said. “I just tried to really commit to every shot and take one shot at a time. That’s all you can do when the conditions are this hard.

“I knew the course was playing really hard, so I just tried to stay strong and wait to see what happened. I just wanted to post a good number, so I’m really happy.”

The one person least expecting Aronsson to win, was Aronsson. After missing the cut at last weekend’s Four Winds Invitational, Aronsson decided to visit her coach. Fortunately for her, it paid off.

“I think with the missed cut, to see my coach and get something that I felt comfortable where I could really trust my irons-especially in this wind-that’s what helped out a lot,” Aronsson said.”I was just feeling my left arm close to my body in every swing and it sounds really simple, but it’s a good way to distract your mind, especially when you’re nervous. For me, I always like to have one feeling that works that I can go to. That was it, and it worked this week, so hopefully it keeps working.”

All first career wins hold special meaning. But the fact Aronsson’s came at Sweetgrass, means that much more to her. Three years ago, she found out her family’s origins could be traced back to this area.

“My parents called me and said ‘Do you know our family roots are from Escanaba?’ I said no way, so I started looking into it,” Aronsson said. “I met some of the relatives. My Dad used to come here every summer when he was a boy, so I got some recipes my great, great, grandmother used to have. It’s so exciting for me to be here. To win this tournament, it is extra special, and means a lot.”

With the win, Aronsson takes home $18,750. Parks receives $11,590 for second place, after shooting a 3-over-par-75, resulting in a tournament score of even-par-216.

“I played three years with her,” Parks said about her and Aronsson’s time together at the University of Washington. “It was good that she got the win. Both of us at the top in the hunt was awesome. I’m very proud of her.”

Sara-Maude Juneau and Katie Kempter tied for third at 1-over-par-217. Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Jean Reynolds, Stephanie Na, and Lee Lopez, all tied for fifth, finishing the tournament at 2-over-par-218.

Marquette’s Avery Rochester failed to make the cut on Saturday, shooting a 9-over-par-81.