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Rookie Wins Vidalia Championship
Sunday, 28 August 2011

August 28--  The only golfer to shoot sub-par rounds all three days of the inauguaral Vidalia Championship, LPGA Futures Tour, won it all Sunday with a tournament total of nine under, eight strokes ahead of her nearest competitor.


Sydnee Michaels of Temecula, California claims the Vidalia trophy, $15,400 in prize money and fifth place on the Futures Tour money list.

"I'm even more thrilled to be fifth on the money list, it's just incredible.  Dreams come true and I'm just thrilled," she said.

The former UCLA All-American has been playing golf since she was nine.  Accepting her trophy, she thanked the Page family of Vidalia for building Hawks Point Golf Course and for seeking the Futures Tour tournament.

"I told my caddie let's have some fun today.  Let's play some golf and have fun. I really just tried to stay in the moment and over every shot that was the only thing in my mind, that shot," Michaels said of her winning day.

It's her first professional win and she says it overshadows her collegiate career, "Oh, this means so much more to me. I am so thrilled and honored, and to be playing this well at this point in the season, I'm really proud of myself, I really am."

More On the Vidalia Championship from the LPGA Futures Tour...

– Rookie Sydnee Michaels was calmly prophetic after she had moved into second place in the opening round of this week’s LPGA Futures Tour tournament.

She entered the week ranked 13th on the tour’s season money list and admitted she came here with a purpose and a plan.

“I know where I’m at on the money list and I know what I need to do,” said Michaels, 23, of Temecula, Calif., on Friday. “I just have to bring it.”

And by Sunday, that’s exactly what the rookie did.

Michaels won her first tournament as a professional today by eight shots at 9-under 207 at the inaugural Vidalia Championship presented by Optim Medical Center -- Tattnall.

The former UCLA All-American carded three birdies and one bogey for a final-round score of 2-under 70 on the firm and speedy greens of Hawk’s Point Golf Club.

Runner-up Ayaka Kaneko (71) of Honolulu, Hawaii was the only other player in the field to finish under par at one-under 215.

Tzu-Chi Lin (72) of Chinese Taipei and Jody Ewart (73) of North Yorkshire, England tied for third at even-par 216 for 54 holes.

“Sydnee was too good,” said Lin, a Futures Tour tournament winner earlier this season. “I don’t think it was easy to win here, but this was her course.”

With the outer bands of Hurricane Irene moving up the east coast during Friday’s opening round and producing steady winds around 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph, players struggled to hit enough club and yet hold the greens. More wind buffeted South Georgia on Saturday.

But Michaels appeared unfazed by the gusts or even the humid Deep South temperatures that hovered around 100 degrees. In three days, she put together rounds of 68-69-70, looking more like a savvy young pro peaking at the right time in the season than a rookie fumbling along hoping for something good to happen.

“She stuck to her game plan for three days, hitting the ball well, putting and chipping well, and staying unwavering in her self-belief,” said professional caddie Lorcan Morris, who has caddied for some of the top names on the LPGA Tour. “What Sydnee has mentally, you can’t teach. It was just a matter of her maturing as a professional, and I think she did that this week.”

Michaels hit 14 greens in regulation today and made her longest putt for birdie all week in today’s final round with a 25-footer on No. 16. Her birdie attempt from 15 feet on the final hole hung on the edge of the cup.

But it was good for a tap-in par for victory and a huge sigh of relief from the Californian who started the season playing alongside good friend and former UCLA teammate Tiffany Joh. Last night, with Joh tied for the lead at the LPGA’s tournament in Canada and Michaels holding a five-shot lead heading into Sunday on the Futures Tour, the two posted messages on each other’s Facebook page. The gist had something to do with “Bruin Power.”

“At UCLA, we fed off each other’s energy and I felt like that again,” said Michaels, who played on the team with Joh for three years. “I said, ‘Let’s do this!’”

And with her win, Michaels bumped Joh out of the top five on the LPGA Futures Tour money list and moved to the top of the Futures Tour’s rookie race. (Joh, who won earlier this season on the Futures Tour as a dual member of both tours, tied for 12th at the CN Canadian Women’s Open and moved to No. 57 on the LPGA’s Official Money List.)

“I’m stoked!” said Michaels of this week’s win. “It feels incredible and the timing of it makes it even better. I’m going into the final event in Albany [N.Y.] really confident and ready to win again.”

For scores and more information, visit www.lpgafuturestour.com.


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