Two-time major champion Anna Nordqvist added a most unlikely trophy to her resume at an unprecedented time.
Nordqvist defeated Lisa Pettersson on the second playoff hole at the Cactus Tour’s Moon Valley, Arizona, stop. While all of golf’s major tours have gone dark through April, the two Swedes finished the 54-hole event knotted at 15-under 201.
LPGA players Mina Harigae (67), Sarah Burnham (67) and Amy Olson (70) rounded out the top five.
Two local camera crews were out shooting the event’s final round. Even Vegas got in on the action, putting Nordqvist at 14/1 odds. Pettersson, a Symetra Tour player, recorded an albatross on the 10th hole en route to a closing 65.
Cactus Tour owner Mike Brown knew that his decision to host the event in the midst of a global pandemic would be controversial. He recently added several tournaments to his schedule, including this one, after the LPGA and Symetra Tour were forced to cancel their West Coast events in March and April over coronavirus concerns. Brown had a field of 27 players and a purse of $9,500. Several players backed out due to pressure from sponsors who did not want them to compete.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the feedback from the girls,” said Brown, “which is all I care about.”
He said that parents of junior players, even pre-teens, were calling to ask if their kids could play. He had five amateurs in the field.
To those who question his decision to bring players together, Brown acknowledged the potential the seriousness of the virus, but pointed out that 100 other guests were out playing Moon Valley Country Club on a sunny Friday and that his players practiced social distancing. As long as the golf courses are open and players sign up, Brown plans to continue holding events. Next week’s is scheduled for Sundance Golf Club in Buckeye, Arizona.
“Who knows, maybe this will get me a sponsor like Purell?” he joked.
Haley Moore, a rookie on the LPGA, tripled her first hole of the opening round and ultimately finished seventh after back-to-back 68s. Moore’s mom took to Facebook on Thursday evening to say that she would no longer tolerate people reaching out to the family, specifically Haley, to request that she withdraw from the event. In Michele’s mind, it was another form of bullying.
“I mean, everyone has their own opinions,” said Haley. “I know some of them think this is all wrong.”
But the Moores met as a family and felt that it was safe to compete. Haley intends to play in several more Cactus Tour events before heading back to California in early April.
“It’s her rookie year and she’s absolutely devastated,” said Michele of the number of LPGA events that have been canceled. Earlier on Friday, the LPGA announced that three more events had been postponed. The tour hasn’t held an event since mid-February. So far, Moore has competed in one LPGA event, the ISPS Handa Vic Open, where she missed the cut.
Clyburn wins Florida event
Nordqvist wasn’t the only female professional to take home a trophy this week. England’s Holly Clyburn won on the Eggland’s Best Tour in Lake Mary, Florida, collecting a $2,000 check.
Clyburn, who was a rookie on the LPGA in 2016, was the only player who finished under par for the tournament at 2 under.
“I have to admit, it was weird,” said Clyburn of playing in a tournament during such an unusual time. She took her towel everywhere, using it to pull the flagstick for other players. Everyone went about their business a bit slower, she said, with caution.
Back home in England, Clyburn said her grandfather has isolated himself as well as her short-game coach. She took a big leap last fall in moving her life entirely over to the U.S., thinking she could invest in herself and earn the money that money back on the Symetra Tour this year.
Clyburn tries to look at the positives, knowing this uncertainty can’t last forever. The financial component, however, can’t be ignored.
“Now, I am really worried,” she said. “I am being very careful of how I do things. … You just never know when your next paycheck is going to be.”