Dewi Claire Schreefel Wins First Pro Event

July 20, 2009

(Story courtesy of Duramed FUTURES Tour)

It almost seemed serendipitous that the only Dutch player in the tournament field, playing the final round with the CEO of ING Americas as her caddie, and on a course bathed in ING's branded orange-colored tents, would ultimately win the $100,000 ING New England Golf Classic.

But Duramed FUTURES Tour rookie and former Trojan All-American Dewi Claire Schreefel played patient and steady golf today to grab her first professional title with scores of 69-64-69 to finish at 202 (-8).

Schreefel won by three shots over Kristie Smith (66) of Perth, Australia, Aimee Cho (68) of Orlando, Fla., and Hannah Jun (70) of San Diego, all tied for second at 295 (-5) on the par-70, Pete Dye-designed Wintonbury Hills Golf Course.

'The first one is always special,' said Schreefel of Diepenveen, Netherlands, the 2006 individual NCAA Women's Golf champion from the University of Southern California and Dutch National Team member. 'I'm very pleased with myself and how I played for three days.'

Schreefel's only real hiccup came on the first hole, where she missed her five-foot par putt for bogey, but she leveled out her scorecard with a birdie from five feet on the sixth hole.

At that point, tournament leader Alison Walshe of Westford, Mass., appeared to be ready to lap the field. Walshe had a four-shot lead over Schreefel after the first nine holes and a five-shot lead over Jun, Cho and Sofie Andersson (72) of Angelholm, Sweden. The lively Irish-American appeared to be enjoying herself on a spectacular sunny New England day.

But Walshe's drive on the par-4 10th tee went left and landed in an awkward lie adjacent to a bunker. The ball rested chest high, forcing Walshe to grip halfway down the shaft of a 6-iron and make a baseball swing. She whiffed her first swing, failing to make contact with the ball, and then managed to punch out her second attempt. From 70 yards, she hit a wedge to nine feet, but three-putted for a triple-bogey-7.

'I was really mad, but I was still ahead by a shot,' said Irish-born Walshe, a Tour rookie who was an All-American at the University of Arizona. 'I tried to calm down, but after a while, I felt like I couldn't get a break.'

Walshe steadied herself with a par on the 11th, but three-putted for bogey on the 12th, had an unplayable lie on the 13th where she made a 12-footer for bogey, three-putted from 30 feet for bogey on the 14th, and then three-putted again on the 16th for bogey from 25 feet.

Walshe finally rolled in a 10-footer for birdie on the 17th, but gave it right back on the last hole for another bogey when she gassed her 8-iron over the green and missed the seven-footer coming back. Her back nine was ugly and painful, but Walshe maintained her poise, later sitting with media and carefully detailing the disheartening round.

'I gave it away,' said Walshe. 'I had [the tournament] in my hands. I had a four-shot lead at the turn and it felt good, but that break on No. 10 turned everything around, and when Dewi birdied the 11th and I bogeyed the 12th, it was a big swing. I'm just really disappointed.'

With her birdie on the 12th, Schreefel took the lead and never looked back in spite of some serious chasers on the tricky 6,087-yard course. Wintonbury Hills' design features 18 holes of rolling terrain and large undulating greens with more breaks than Evil Knievel.

Smith, the Australian rookie just itching to break through with her own win, fired her second 4-under-par 66 of the week to jump into a share of second. Smith had only one birdie on the front, but told herself to hang on.

'I stayed really patient,' said Smith, who hit 17 greens in regulation. 'I had a lot of good putts and I knew they would start going in.'

She rolled in four more birdies on the back with her only bogey coming on the 18th hole, allowing her to shoot up the leaderboard and wait for the finish.

Playing one group ahead of Schreefel, Cho carded three birdies on the front nine with none shorter than 12 feet. But the former University of Florida Gator couldn't make up any more ground, posting one birdie and two bogeys on her second nine holes.

'I knew where I was on the leaderboard, but it didn't matter,' said Cho, who posted her career-best finish today. 'I still had to get the ball in the hole.'

Andersson also made a charge on the back nine, grabbing a share of second with two holes to play until she bogeyed the 17th and went out of bounds on the 18th. The Swede flew the final green and took double-bogey on the 18th to drop back into a tie for 12th at 208 (-2).

Jun, a 2008 LPGA Tour member and a former UCLA All-American, also tried to make a run on her back nine, but fell short with two bogeys and one birdie. Her birdie chances on the greens never found the mark.

'If you shoot even par out here, it feels like you're giving it back to the field,' said Jun. 'What I did today was pretty boring and not good enough to win.'

But Schreefel, with the Dutch-owned ING company CEO Tom McInerty on her bag, was unflappable while Walshe, her fellow competitor, unraveled uncharacteristically.

'Dewi (pronounced Davey) was very, very steady coming in,' said McInerty, who holds a 7 handicap and is based in the company's office in the Greater Hartford area. 'Who would dream that the only Dutch player in the tournament would end up winning?'

Schreefel did. Maybe she really dreamed this would be the break-through week when the ING executive volunteered his Sunday services as her caddie after a pro-am earlier in the week.

Or maybe she dreamed it after she arrived at Wintonbury Hills to discover an abundance of orange-colored everything, right down to the orange shoelaces in volunteers' shoes. There was so much orange, a color synonymous with Holland, that it would have made Dutch soccer fans proud. And by week's end, some might have called it 'Dutch luck.'

But for rookie Dewi Schreefel, climbing from 26th to seventh on the Tour's season money list with only six tournaments left to play, today's win was a Dutch treat, hard-fought for the only player from her nation, and sweet as it could be.

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