EL DORADO: Malaysia’s Natasha Andrea Oon has claimed her first professional title with an impressive victory at the US$225,000 Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout on the Epson Tour.
Two shots off the 36-hole lead following rounds of 67 and 70 at Mystic Creek Golf Club in El Dorado, Arkansas, Oon seized control of the tournament with an eagle and two birdies over the front nine of her final round on Sunday.
Despite dropping a shot at the par-three 16th, Oon’s closing 69 for a 10-under-par 206 total was good enough for a three-shot victory over American Carley Cox and Australia’s Robyn Choi.
Overnight leader Karen Chung of the United States settled for joint fourth on six-under-par after a closing 75.
After a morning filled with weather delays, the final round finished in near darkness with Oon sinking to her knees in joy and relief after holing the final putt.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. It was such a rollercoaster of an event, so it’s pretty cool just to see it all tie up together. My favourite number is 10 and I finished 10-under, so I’m thinking wow, 10 is really my number,” said Oon, who had chalked up four runner-up performances in her previous 17 starts.
“I’ve been in this position before, so I decided to let go. Whatever happens, happens. Last time on the runner-ups, I pushed and pushed. This round I let go, and that eagle really helped me,” added the Malaysian number one.
The Epson Tour is the official qualifying circuit for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, which is the premier ladies’ golf circuit in the world. The top 10 players on the Epson Tour’s Race for the Card season rankings will receive LPGA Tour cards for 2024.
With the US$33,750 winner’s cheque, Oon consolidated second place on the Race for the Card with season earnings of US$147,780 and has now secured her LPGA Tour card for next year.
Australia’s Grabriela Ruffels, who did not play in the tournament, remains top with US$156,283.
Oon turned professional in June last year after a standout collegiate golf career with San Jose State University. She completed four rounds at Stage II of the 2022 LPGA Tour and Epson Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn Epson Tour membership for this year.
Oon is the third Malaysian to win on the Epson Tour, following Lim Siew Ai (2000 Carolina National Futures Classic) and Kelly Tan (2019 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic).
The Epson Tour is poised for an exciting final two events of its 2023 season with the US$200,000 Tuscaloosa Toyota Classic at Ol’ Colony Golf Course in Alabama (Sept 29 – Oct 1), followed by the US$250,000 Epson Tour Championship at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Florida (Oct 5-8).
Malaysian golf fans will be able to catch Oon and the stars of the LPGA Tour in action during the US$3 million Maybank Championship at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club on Oct 26-29.
Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout Results (Top 10 and ties)
206 (-10) Natasha Andrea Oon (MAS) 67-70-69
209 (-7) Carley Cox (USA) 70-70-69
Robyn Choi (AUS) 67-73-69
210 (-6) Jillian Hollis (USA) 70-72-68
Isabella Fierro (MEX) 71-70-69
Kristen Gillman (USA) 72-66-72
Karen Chung (USA) 68-67-75
211 (-5) Jenny Bae (USA) 71-69-71
212 (-4) Jessica Porvasnik (USA) 73-69-70
Dottie Ardina (PHI) 72-70-70
Auston Kim (USA) 71-71-70