It took Cydney Clanton seven playoff holes but the Concord, N.C. native outlasted Marissa Steen and Marina Alex to win the Four Winds Invitational.
Clanton and Steen entered the final day at Blackthorn Golf Club trailing Alex by 2-strokes but both fired final-round 2-under 70’s to force the playoff.
Clanton was able to make a move early in the day with a birdie at the par-4 third but then made back-to-back bogeys at the par-4 fifth and par-5 sixth to drop to 1-over for the day.
The former collegiate golfer at Auburn University quickly got back on track with birdies at the par-4 eighth, par-5 ninth, and par-4 12th before dropping another stroke at the par-3 12th. Clanton’s final birdie of the day came at the par-4 14th before she would par out to force the playoff.
All three players made routine pars on the on the first three playoff holes before Alex was eliminated with a bogey after hitting her drive in the right hazard.
Despite the untimely loss, Alex’s large cheering section which was congregated inside a tent just off the 18th fairway, helped the Vanderbilt University smile after the long day.
“It was exciting,” said Alex. “A family that I was staying with they were here and a bunch of girls that I travel with were out watching. It was a ton of fun. The crowds here are absolutely awesome, it’s nice seeing people out here and having a good time and cheering us on.”
The battle continued to ensue between Steen and Clanton with both players repeatedly skimming the edge of the hole for birdie and the victory.
“There were a couple I thought were in,” said Steen. “But it’s the name of the game and I will just learn from this experience. I lasted longer than last time which was one hole so that was good.”
It didn’t come until the seventh playoff hole that Clanton was able to capitalize on Steen’s narrow miss on her 35-foot par putt. With nerves of steel, Clanton calmly drained her 10-foot birdie putt for the victory.
“I didn’t think it was going to go in at first,” said Clanton. “It came in the bottom lip and once it went I thought oh my gosh, thank you Lord for being there, it went in. There weren’t very many thoughts going through my mind because I thought we were going to be going again. It was a very exciting moment.”
This week’s playoff wasn’t the first for Steen who was narrowly defeated in a playoff at last year’s Ladies Titan Tire Challenge.
“I didn’t give it away,” said Clanton. “I made all pars so I didn’t make any mistakes so I had a couple putts that came pretty close but what are you going to do.”
Despite the playoff hole that seemed to be a portion out of the movie Groundhog Day, Clanton was able to shake off the nerves and have a bit of fun en route to her first Symetra Tour victory.
“I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous the first few,” said Clanton. “I settled down about the fourth hole and realized that you are just going to have to grind it out. It was tough and the 18th hole was tough. The pin I have to say was very frustrating. I thought Marissa putted a few in before I made mine but it was tough. It was a great 18th finish hole and it was fun.”