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Metraux rebounds to win IRC

Ken Meshigaud, chief of the Hannahville tribe of the Potawatomi Nation, places a native blanket on the shoulders of Island Resort Champion winner Morgane Metraux on the 18th green Sunday at Sweetgrass Golf Club. Metraux also won $5,000 as a Potawatomi Cup bonus and landed a berth in the Evian Cup championship in France, the LPGA’s fourth major. (Dennis Grall/For the Gazette)

HARRIS — To say Morgane Metraux has high standards is an understatement.

Upset by her first bogey of the weekend, the Switzerland native rebounded here Sunday to win her first Symetra Tour golf tournament with a sterling finish.

“The first couple of holes, I was a little nervous,” she admitted in a group press interview on the 18th green shortly after the finish.

After her bogey on the par-three seventh hole, what many believe is the toughest hole on the course, she dug in and said “everything came together.”

Metraux used birdies on Nos. 14 and 17 to forge a lead that cemented her victory at the 10th Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass. She finished at minus-17 on the Sweetgrass Golf Club to edge second-round leader Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Quebec by a stroke. Leblanc held a three-stroke lead entering the final round.

The payday for Metraux, who hails from Lausanne, is substantial. She received $30,000 of the $200,000 purse, plus $5,000 as a bonus for taking the first of four Potawatomi Cup events and also earned a berth in the season’s fourth LPGA Major, the Evian Cup in France.

“The Evian Championship (in neighboring France) is like my little girl dream,” Metraux told the grandstand crowd after receiving her booty. She said the Potawatomi Cup “is a bonus for me.”

Metraux, who hit several mid-range and long-range putts in Saturday’s sizzling round of 63, used brilliant chip shots to sink her tap-in birdies. Her birdie on 14 came after Leblanc just missed her slightly longer birdie putt. Both women chipped from the fringe on 14.

“I wasn’t trying to think too far ahead” after the birdie on 14, Metraux said in a one-on-one interview later. “It became big at the end, but it was hard to tell at the time how big it was going to be.”

Leblanc made Metraux respond on 17, sinking a 12-foot putt for birdie. Metraux then had a mere tap-in after her approach chip from about 110 yards stopped just past the hole.

“The one on 17 was a big birdie,” Metraux conceded.

Both women parred the 18th hole in front of a large grandstand crowd, with Leblanc putting her head into her left hand after her birdie attempt failed and basically sealed the crown for Metraux, who made a knee-knocker short putt for par.

“My goal was to have a birdie-birdie finish,” Metraux said before leaving the course.

On the two short birdie putts, she did not take much time to strike the ball.

“I didn’t want to have to think about it,” she said with a smile.

The victory puts Metraux into the No. 2 spot in the Race for the (LPGA) Card with $61,680. Ruixin Liu of China is the pace-setter with $71,017. Liu tied for 20th place at 209.

Celine Borge of Tonsberg, Norway finished third with 203 after shooting 7-under-65 Sunday.

There was a tie for fourth at 204 between Sierra Brooks of Orlando, Fla. and Ingrid Gutierrez Nunez of Mexico.

The field of 144 players came from 30 countries, with 74 players from 26 American states.

Teresa Toscano, one of two recent college graduates who were tourney exemptions, just missed making the cut after drowning her tee shot on the 15th island green Saturday. She shot 1-over-par 73 and was right on the cut line with even-par-144.

Toscano was a caddy for another Spaniard Sunday, working for Maria Parra, who finished in a tie for 11th at 206.

Toscano, who played for Perkins native Casey VanDamme at South Dakota State University, said she was elated with the opportunity to compete as an amateur exemption.

“I learned I really have the game to play here,” said Toscano, adding “I have to work on my short game.”

She said the weekend allowed her to “learn about life on the tour. It gave me energy to keep working at it. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Daniela Iacobelli, who won the 2019 championship, also missed the cut after shooting 73-72. Kelly Whaley, whose mother is a former PGA Tour president and was her daughter’s caddy, also missed the cut at plus-one 71-74.

The tour next goes to Cincinnati June 25-27.

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