It didn’t take Haruka Morita-Wanyaolu long to learn how to win on the women’s pro golf tour.
Morita-Wanyaolu, a rookie on the LPGA’s Symetra Tour, picked up her first tour victory Saturday, taking the Symetra Classic at the Raintree Country Club in a playoff.
Morita-Wanyaolu sank a 6-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Canada’s Augusta James to become the eighth winner in eight tour events this season.
“I was leading two weeks ago after the first round at Greenwood, S.C., but didn’t play as well as I wanted the final two rounds,” Morita-Wanyaolu said through her translator, caddie Kei Kita.
“Now that I’ve been able to hold onto the lead and win in a playoff, everything that I’ve done up until this point has really paid off. It’s going to mean a lot for my confidence, because I know I’m heading in the right direction.”
Tied for second entering the final round, Morita-Wanyaolu shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to finish at 12-under 204. But she wound up in a playoff after James – who played collegiately at N.C. State – put her tee shot on the par-3 No. 18 less than2 feet from the hole, tapping in for birdie.
However, on both playoff holes, James gave Morita-Wanyaolu openings by hitting tee shots into the bunker. She was able to save par on the first playoff hole, and Morita-Wanyaolu missed a 10-foot birdie putt.
But on the second hole, James’ shot caught the lip and just cleared the bunker, and she missed a 20-foot putt for par. That gave Morita-Wanyaolu two shots to make par and win the playoff.
“I was definitely trying to repeat my first shot. I mis-hit the first playoff hole shot and put it in the bunker. The second I thought I struck it pure. It was all over the pin line-wise, but it wasn’t there distance-wise. Having one foot out of the bunker isn’t ideal.” – James.
Rachel Rohanna, of Waynesburg, Pa., had a chance to make it a three-way playoff, but missed a chip shot for birdie on No. 18. She settled for third at 11-under 205. … Second-round leader Haley Italia of Pace, Fla., shot 1-over 73 Saturday, and finished tied for seventh at 7-under 209.
The Symetra Tour heads to Battle Creek, Mich., June 5-7, for the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship at the Battle Creek Country Club.
Symetra Classic Top Finishers
AT RAINTREE COUNTRY CLUB
YARDAGE: 6,229, PAR 72
*-won on second playoff hole
Haruka Morita-Wanyaolu 66-71-67—204*
Augusta James 66-71-67—204
Rachel Rohanna 69-69-67—205
Lindy Duncan 70-69-68—207
Victoria Elizabeth 68-71-69—208
Katie Kempter 67-70-71—208
Daniela Iacobelli 72-70-67—209
Ani Gulugian 71-68-70—209
Marina Choi 68-71-70—209
Haley Italia 68-68-73—209
Emily Talley 73-70-67—210
Brianna Do 73-71-67—211
Shannon Fish 72-71-68—211
Guilia Molinaro 72-70-69—211
Maude-Aimee LeBlanc 71-71-69—211
Nicole Jeray 68-73-70—211
Alice H. Kim 69-71-71—211
Chie Arimura 70-69-72—211
Cindy Lacrosse 68-75-69—212
Alejandra Llaneza 71-70-71—212
Kathleen Ekey 71-70-71—212
Sara-Maude Juneau 70-71-71—212
Ashleigh Albrecht 70-70-72—212