One year into her professional golf career, California’s Savannah Vilaubi is something of an internet and social media sensation.
But the former Cal-Riverside player who said she wants to be known for more than that, will see Texas Women’s Open Champion in future search results.
Vilaubi roared past 36-hole leader Christina Lecuyer, shooting 69 for a 54-hole total of 213 to win tournament Saturday at Rolling Hills Country Club. She also collected $5,000 and a playing exemption into the LPGA’s 2017 Volunteers of America Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club next spring.
I just kind of kept at it and told myself not to freak out about anything and just put up some good shots.
Savannah Vilaubi after seeing the leader board on the back nine
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Houston junior Megan Thothong of Dallas and former Southern Cal standout Kyung Kim, a three-time All-American from Arizona, finished second, two shots back at 215.
“More than anything, I really feel like I had control of my emotions this week,” Vilaubi said. “I had a good attitude, and I knew I was playing well coming in.
“Today I figured someone else was out there playing well, so it wasn’t until No. 16 that I saw the leader board and kind of knew I maybe had a one shot lead. I just kind of kept at it and told myself not to freak out about anything and just put up some good shots.”
Vilaubi saved par on No. 10 to start her back nine, and birdied No. 11 to take the lead.
“At that point I just felt like I had good momentum and there wasn’t any reason for it to stop,” Vilaubi said.
After shaking off bogey at No. 14, Vilaubi added birdies at the 16 and 17 to give her a cushion on the final hole.
My dad found it, but the ball oscillated when he pulled back the grass back and we couldn’t say for sure that the ball moved back to its original spot.
Megan Thothong on being assessed a one-stroke penalty in the final round
Thothong had the day’s low round — a 68 that included five birdies on the back nine to come home in 30.
Although she buried an 18-foot birdie to close her round and momentarily take a one-shot lead, Thothong was assessed a one-shot penalty after the round after informing tournament officials of rules violation on the eighth hole.
“I hit a terrible shot there and my ball was in the deep grass and we were trying to find it,” Thothong said. “My dad found it, but the ball oscillated when he pulled back the grass back and we couldn’t say for sure that the ball moved back to its original spot.”
Vilaubi’s playing partner, Kim, was steady throughout the day and kept pace with a late birdie on No. 17 to shoot a final round 72.