RICHMOND, VA -
Virginia women's golfer Lauren Greenlief (Oakton, Va.) left little doubt that she was going to own a special place in the Virginia State Golf Association record books with her performance in the final round of the Virginias Women's Stroke Play Championship on Thursday at Willow Oaks Country Club.
The 20-year-old negotiated windy conditions to shoot a final round best 2-under-par 70 to blow past the field for a seven-stroke victory. Greenlief concluded the championship with an even-par 216 (72-74-70) aggregate. Carol Robertson of Virginia Beach closed with 75 and finished second at 7-over 223.
With the triumph, the recent University of Virginia graduate became the first player to win the title three consecutive years in the championship's 34-year history. Additionally, she became the fourth player to claim a trio of victories in the event, joining former LPGA Tour player Donna Andrews as well as Liz (Rowland) Rogers and Sherry Bowman in owning that distinction.
Possessor of a two-stroke advantage entering the final round, Greenlief registered five birdies against two bogeys and admittedly continued to rely on steady play and a patient approach. The Sydney Elliott Trophy awarded to the champion has seemingly found a permanent home.
But for Greenlief, who is balancing work obligations with practice time for golf, the victory admittedly means more than a place in the record books.
"I'm a competitor and love tournament golf," said Greenlief, who is employed at Arlington-based FI Consulting this summer. "Even while working full-time, I think I showed that I can still shoot low scores. It was great to be back."
With her shotmaking and short game in order, Greenlief shot one under par on the outward half and held a six-stroke lead over fellow-competitor and reinstated amateur Robertson (front-nine 39) at the turn. Greenlief hit the accelerator in the early stages of the inward nine, holing putts of 20 and 8 feet at Nos. 10 and 12, respectively. She answered a bogey at No. 13 by drilling a 7-iron to 15 feet at the par-3 15th for a nice comeback birdie following a blemish.
Greenlief called the response from the bogey "her favorite shot" of the day. She has plenty of reasons to feel a special sense of accomplishment. In addition to three-peating, Greenlief equaled the low round of this year's event, matching Robertson's second round two under par score. Her victory margin was the largest in 10 years when Kilmarnock's Carter Crowther won by seven strokes in 2001.
"I'm proud of myself," said Greenlief, who earned her undergraduate degree in math and economics from UVa about three weeks ago. She'll begin work on her master's degree in finance at the school in the fall, with a year of eligibility remaining on the golf team. "I wanted to come here and have a good tournament and am proud that I went out and accomplished the goal for a week."
Note: Story provided by the Virginia State Golf Association