ROGERS — Arkansas junior Kelli Shean capped off her first career LPGA event in storybook fashion with a final round 2-under 69 Sunday to finish 1-under par which tied her for 27th at the LPGA’s p&g Beauty NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club.
Shean, the only amateur in the field this week and winner of Tuesday’s qualifying tournament, became the only amateur to qualify for an LPGA event this season and then make the cut. In addition, the Cape Town, South Africa native is one of only four players who made tournaments fields through the qualifying process to make the cut on the LPGA Tour this season. Of the four who made the cut, only Allison Hanna-Williams had a higher tournament finish, a tie for 15th, than Shean’s tie for 27th. Because she played as an amateur, Shean was not eligible to receive the $14,015 in prize money that went to the players who finished 1 under par.
“I think this summer and especially with this tournament that my confidence has come back again.”said Shean following her round. “So hopefully it stays like that because I think we have a fantastic team this year and I can’t wait for our season to start. This gives me a lot of confidence being the amateur out there this week and I want to be able to share that with my team as we start our season next week”
“It’s been so exciting and so much fun to watch the girls go out and compete in this event.”, said Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor. “A great experience for Kelli. She played amazing golf the last two days and it was a lot of fun to watch. I think it’s a window into what she’s going to do this season so I’m really excited about that. Kelli needed some confidence and this was the perfect opportunity to fill that tank up with confidence going into our season. She hit the ball nicely, she putted well which is sometimes her weakness. So to gain some good experience on the greens in competition is something very valuable for her.”
Shean started her final round on the 10th tee and made the turn with an even par 35. She would add a pair of birdies en route to a 2-under 34 over her final nine holes to finish in red figures. After an opening round 5-over 76 that left her in a tie for 127th, the Razorback junior went 6-under par over the final 36 holes
“I’m very happy with the way I came back.”, noted Shean following her round. “To be able to get 6 shots back on this course in the last couple days is really exciting. It’s probably the most exciting tournament I’ve ever played.”
Former Razorback All-American and NCAA ChampionStacy Lewis carded a even par 71 in the final round to finish the tournament at 2-under par which was good for a tie for 21st. Lewis earned $18,385 for her finish this weekend which increased her rookie year earnings to $271,012.00 which puts her 44th on the 2009 LPGA Official Money List.
“It was an ok week.”, said Lewis following her round. “I didn’t do anything great but I played solid and I had a lot of fun so I guess that’s all that matters.”
“She’s just solid.”, noted Estes-Taylor. “She struggled a little bit the first day but played some good golf on the weekend.”
LPGA Tour rookie player Jiyai Shin won a two-hole, sudden-death playoff to take the tournament championship and $270,000 winner’s check to boost her season earnings to a tour leading $1.498,861. This was the third victory of the year for Shin who now leads the LPGA points race for both Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.
Shean and the Razorback women’s golf team open the 2009-10 season Saturday at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico.