ALBANY, N.Y., July 26, 2015 - Breanna Elliott (Yarrawonga, Australia) played the most ‘consistent golf of her life’ over three days to win the Fuccillo Kia Championship at Capital Hills by carding a 2-under 69 on Sunday. She closed with a par on 18 to finish at 13-under 200 (65-66-69), one stroke in front of Augusta James (Bath, Ontario) and Fiona Puyo (Hendaye, France).
Elliott led wire-to-wire to earn her first victory as a professional.
“This is so sweet, I am so pumped and this is just unbelievable,” said the free spirited Elliott, who has green hair. “I’m so happy right now, this is what I have been working for and this is huge for me. This is the first step in the right direction. This is for my family back home, I know they are going to be celebrating tonight.”
Elliott had a one shot lead at the start of the round and maintained the slight lead at the turn. The tides swung towards James on the par-4 14th when Elliott made bogey and James made birdie to take the outright lead with four to play. James faltered on the next hole with a bogey and then Elliott made birdie on the 16th hole to take a one shot lead. Both players made par on 17. On 18, a par-3, Elliott and James played safe shots to the middle of the green. Elliott putted first and rolled her birdie attempt pin high and just two feet from the cup. James missed her birdie to tie to the left and then Elliott calmly tapped in for the win.
“I felt really calm and I am normally a pretty relaxed person, but I thought when I was put into the moment that the nerves would creep in, but I felt this unbelievable calm,” said Elliott. “It was nice to hit a great shot on the last hole and then roll a good putt up there. Waiting to tap in the putt was just agony, but I am super pleased.”
In addition to the first place check that moves her from 78th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to 23rd, Elliott wins a 2015 Snow White Kia Optima LX courtesy of Fuccillo Kia of Schenectady. It is the first time in Tour history that the winner of an event also receives a car.
“My new Kia, this is amazing,” said Elliott. “I’ve been driving a rental all year and this car is definitely the cherry on top.”
All week, Elliott talked about how qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open gave her a new outlook on life and golf. She also admitted that the pressure of the Open and the big crowds helped her sleep on the lead.
“Playing in the U.S. Women’s Open was the main reason I was able to stay calm today. I played in some really nice groups in practice and there were big crowds watching us,” said Elliott, who played with Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb to name a few at Lancaster Country Club. “I’m really grateful that I had that experience and it paid off today.”
Before the U.S. Women’s Open, Elliott posted just two top 30 finishes this season. Last week, she finished in a tie for 24th at the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic.
“This is the most consistent golf I’ve ever played, I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie” explained Elliott, who has posted scores in the 60’s in five of her last seven rounds. “I hit the ball long and overall my game was very strong this week.”
Elliott dyed her hair green before the U.S. Women’s Open and said it seems to be a good omen.
“This green hair should be permanent, I feel like it is paying off big time for me,” said Elliott with a huge smile. “I had no idea when I did it that it was going to be a huge hit, but I love it and everyone will have to get used to me in green hair from now on.”
In all seriousness, the win was paramount for Elliott who is now in sight of the top 10.
“This is huge to move up the money list and really give me a chance (at an LPGA Tour card),” said Elliott. “This is what I need to kick start the last half of the year.
James’ tie for second on the money list moved her from 9th to 3rd with eight events remaining. She now leads all rookies with $44,764 earned. Casey Grice finished in a tie for fourth and moved from 11th to seventh on the money list while Puyo moved from 89th to 38th with her tie for second.
HYE-MIN KIM ACES 18: Hye-Min Kim (Seoul, South Korea) was deciding between a seven iron and a six iron on the 18th hole. She choose the seven and recorded her first ever hole-in-one in tournament play.
“It was a good line and it landed perfectly and I was like ‘oh, it might go in’ and it did and for whatever I was scared,” said Kim with a smile. “I’m going to give the ball to my volunteer caddie.”
Kim was all smiles on her walk up to the green as the crowd surrounding the hospitality area gave her a nice ovation.
“I had goosebumps and I felt like I just won the tournament.”
SECOND STRAIGHT TOP 10 FOR FORMER SOLHEIM PLAYER: Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Fla.), who played on the 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup team, carded a final-round 6-under 65 to move from T32 to a tie for seventh. Hurst finished solo second last week at the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic.
Her last two weeks have put her in contention for full-time LPGA Tour status for 2016. She ranked 127 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list before the New York swing. She now ranks 27th.
Hurst won four times on the Symetra Tour in 2008 and has played on the LPGA Tour ever since until a wrist injury prevented her from performing at her optimum.