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Kueny reigns at Raintree, wins by a shot

By Bill Kiser
Correspondent

If Laura Kueny was ever going to win her first Symetra Tour tournament title, she knew it would take catching a break.

She got one over the final three holes at Raintree Country Club, pulling out a one-stroke victory after Saturday’s final round in the Symetra Classic.

Kueny, of Whitehall, Mich., picked up a key birdie on No. 16, then watched as Alena Sharp of Canada gave up the lead with a double bogey on the par 4 17th hole.

Sharp, who led by two strokes after Friday’s second round, then missed a 40-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 and had to tap in for par to finish 2-over 74.

Kueny played it safe, putting her second putt within 18 inches of the hole, then tapping in to close the round at 1-under 71 and win her first career Symetra Tour title in 25 events.

“I just played solid all week, and except for the last (hole) I wasn’t nervous at all,” said Kueny, 25, who finished the three-day tournament at 6-under 210 to win $15,000. “I felt very confident out there, and everything went my way.

“I kinda knew that this was going to be my week. Even if I won or not, I knew I was going to have a good finish.”

Sharp finished in a three-way tie for second at 5-under 211 with fellow Canadian Izzy Beisiegel (69) and Sweden’s Carolina Westrup (70). Tiffany Joh (73) was fifth at 4-under 212.

However, it didn’t look like either Kueny or Sharp would come away with a win during Saturday’s final round, as both players had their troubles with the winds and occasional late-afternoon showers.

Sharp followed a birdie on No. 2 with a double bogey on the par 4 No. 3. She made up the lost stroke with a birdie on No. 12, and was still up by two shots heading to the final three holes.

Meanwhile, Kueny – who had seven birdies and two bogeys over the first two rounds – couldn’t buy a birdie Saturday. In fact, she bogeyed No. 11, but made up the stroke with her first birdie on No. 12.

Then Kueny birdied No. 16, pulling within a stroke of the lead. Sharp responded by putting her second shot on No. 17 into the bunker, then missed a 3-foot putt for bogey that would have left her with a share of the lead.

“I had a lot of chances to make birdie, and I didn’t,” said Sharp, who has three career runner-up finishes in 23 Symetra Tour events, including two this season.

“It’s tough to take right now, but I played pretty well all week. I just needed to be more aggressive with the putting on the last day.”

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