Linn Grant wins the Sun Devil Winter Classic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Sun Devil Women's Golf's Linn Grant captured the Individual Championship at the inaugural Sun Devil Winter Classic, held at Talking Stick Golf Club over the past three days.
There was nobody better at the Sun Devil Winter Classic this week than Arizona State's own Linn Grant, who strung together three consecutive stellar rounds to earn her third-consecutive tournament medalist honor. No stranger to pressure, Grant played poised and composed down the stretch.
"At the end of the day the pressure is just something positive because it means that I'm in the position where I want to be, or at least that's how I try to look at it," Grant commented after her round. "I just have to accept it and try my best to play with a little more adrenaline and pressure."
Grant was in contention for the individual title since play opened on Feb. 15 and entered the final round locked in a first-place tie with UCLA's Emma Spitz. Grant and Spitz traded blows all week, each taking turns atop the leaderboard throughout the final round, before Grant ripped off four birdies in six holes on an incredible back-nine run that clinched the title.
"Linn's individual win with a fantastic 67 today is a terrific addition to her impressive college resume," Coach Farr-Kaye reflected.
The sophomore was rock-solid on the first and second day, but was flat out dominant in the championship round. She shot 67 (-5), the only player to finish under-70 on Wednesday, ending with a three-stroke lead over the runner-up Spitz. Despite windy conditions which played tricks on her fellow competitors, Grant's savvy and experience came into play, a big reason why she is currently one of the top-ranked amateurs in the World.
"I'm pretty used to playing in the wind since playing in Europe," Grant observed. "I enjoy it as well which I think is to my advantage, knowing that it's a little difficult makes me want to play even better and I think that's how I keep my focus."
It marked the third consecutive round of under-par for the Sun Devil sophomore, good for a total of 210 (-9) strokes. She also paced the rest of the field with a tournament-best 14 birdies this week.
"The individual win for me was important," Grant added. "It was a good tournament with a lot of very solid players. I'm currently ranked #2 in the world so anything that could mean that I get a little closer to that #1 is something I will try my best at.
As Grant engaged in a battle for the individual title, the Sun Devils were also in contention all week for the team title, swapping turns with USC for first-place throughout Wednesday afternoon. The Trojans eventually pulled away on the back nine, stretching what was once a tight one-stroke advantage. Despite having already concluded their rounds, Grant's teammates waited anxiously near the 18th green to proudly greet their friend.
"Having the support from my teammates is fun and takes of the pressure a little bit. I know that whatever happens we will always be there for each other and that's a great feeling to have!"
The Sun Devils ended Wednesday four strokes behind the champion-Trojans with 862 combined strokes, and was -2 on the day. The Sun Devils and Trojans comfortably separated themselves from the rest of the field, with the third-place team trailing the Sun Devils by 22 total strokes.
Amidst a wildly-strong field, it was the Sun Devils' depth and talent that catapulted Missy Farr-Kaye's squad to a second-place finish in their first taste of Pac-12 play this spring.
Closely trailing Grant and Spitz throughout the final round was another Sun Devil in Amanda Linner, who pieced together an impressive finish on Tuesday to climb near the top of the leaderboard.
Linner was nearly-flawless in her final round en route to an even-finish of 72. She recorded a birdie on five, a hole six Sun Devils also managed to birdie on Wednesday. Linner ended the week shooting 215 (-1), proving to be a consistent option for the Sun Devils all week.
Playing in just the second tournament of her Sun Devil career, freshman Ashley Menne continued her hot-streak, finishing under-par for the second consecutive day. Menne, who finished her third round with a 71 (-1), trailed only Grant for the most birdies this week with 12 of her own. This after shooting a 66 (-6) on day two, she authored a final round that featured three birdies to finish at 216 (E) on the week.
Menne's second round 66 (-6) would not be beat, standing as the lowest score of any golfer in the field.
Alexandra Forsterling, the fourth Sun Devil to finish within the top-11, was fantastic on the front nine of her final round, carding a 34 (-2). Forsterling added nine birdies to her scoreboard at Talking Stick, good for fifth-most, and played in the No. 1 slot for the first time of her career this week.
Raquel Olmos put together consistent stretches of golf in her third round, once completing a stretch of seven pars in eight holes. She ended up with 39 pars this week, tied for third-most in the tournament.
Alessandra Fanali, who shaved six strokes off of her game in two days, was another reason the Sun Devils remained near the top of the field in Scottsdale. Fanali shot one-under par on the front nine on Wednesday, before rounding out her week with a solid 73 (+1). Fanali's three rounds totaled to 224 (+8), and she joined Olmos for the third-most pars this week.
Senior Olivia Mehaffey enjoyed her best round of the tournament on Wednesday, shooting a 74 (+2), highlighted by two birdies on the front nine and a stretch of nine-straight pars.
Sun Devil Women's Golf will leave the state for the first time this season, heading to Southern California for the Bruin Wave Invitational hosted by UCLA and Pepperdine from March 1-3.
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