MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, August 6, 2017 – Brittany Marchand (Orangeville, Ontario) handled the pressure of her first Sunday lead like a veteran that has won many times before. She posted a bogey-free 4-under, 68 at Brown Deer Park to win the PHC Classic by three shots. Marchand finished with a three-day score of 13-under, 203.
After a 1-under, 71 on Friday, Marchand made 13 birdies and just one bogey over the final two rounds to earn her first win on the Symetra Tour and her first win as a professional. Marchand pockets the $15,000 and moves from 41st to 17th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with six events remaining. She has now earned $28,680 in 14 starts this year.
Marchand also earns a spot in The Evian Championship, the final major on the LPGA schedule from September 14-17. The top two finishers at the PHC Classic earned spots. Marion Ricordeau, a native of Laon, France, finished in second place at 10-under, 206 to stamp her ticket to compete in her first Evian Championship.
“It’s a really special moment,” said Marchand, a second-year pro. “I know that I have the ability and I know it’s in me, it’s just really cool to see it shine through.”
Marchand never once showed signs of struggling with the nerves and she credited the experience at the Manulife LPGA Classic, when she made the cut and was in the top 10 after three rounds.
“The experience there where I was up in a really good position really helped me today,” said Marchand, who slipped on Sunday at the LPGA event, but still finished T46. “It really helped me today to keep calm and just keep doing my thing. This is pretty awesome and pretty surreal at this point.”
Marchand started a little slow with pars on the first two holes, but then made a critical birdie from just on the second cut of grass on the par-3 third. She decided to use the flatstick and hit a 20-footer.
“When you are nervous, eliminating a lot of hand movement is key so that is why I decided to putt instead of hitting a fine chip shot,” explained Marchand. “That helped me relax and it made me think that if I play like I did yesterday I would be fine.”
On hole nine, Marchand hit what she described as a “bad drive”, but recovered with a 5-iron to 15 feet.
“After making that putt on nine I felt really good,” said Marchand, who built a three-stroke lead to the back nine. “I was really pleased with three-under on the front and the putt gave me a boost to end strong. Even though I didn’t drop many putts on the back, I felt like I played really solid.”
Marchand has had a bit of inconsistent year by her own standards. She felt the win comes at a perfect time.
“I feel like I’ve been very up-and-down this season and it has knocked my confidence down a bit because I know I am there, but I haven’t been able to see it shine through, “ said Marchand. “It definitely gives me a good boost going into the last six events feeling confident to make a push for my (LPGA) card.”
Marchand still has some ground to make up. She is approximately $14,000 short of No. 10 on the money list. The good news is that the next Symetra Tour event is the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge, which offers the highest purse ($210,000) and winner’s payout ($31,500) on Tour. The Tour will take three weeks off before heading to South Dakota.
The top ten remained completely unchanged after the PHC Classic with Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Copenhagen, Denmark), Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand) and Erynne Lee (Silverdale, Washington) holding the top three spots. No. 11 Lindsey Weaver (Bellefontaine, Ohio) was unable to close the gap on No. 10 Kendall Dye (Edmond, Oklahoma) as they both finished in a tie for 14th.
STORYBOOK ENDING FOR FRENCH PLAYER: This was Marion Ricordeau’s last week on the Symetra Tour this season. Before the PHC Classic, she made the decision not to return to the U.S. to compete on the Symetra Tour because she wasn’t playing well and funds were dwindling. She had one goal in mind this week and that was to qualify for The Evian Championship in her country of France. Ricordeau drilled a five-foot birdie putt on 18 to slide into a second place finish.
“It feels unreal to qualify,” said Ricordeau. “After my round yesterday, I don’t want to say I lost hope, but I was thinking play your game, but you won’t make it, but still play and maybe you can get close.”
Ricordeau started with a three-putt par on one and then a bogey on two. Things weren’t going her way.
“I was like ‘oh gosh, what are you doing?’ to myself,” explained Ricordeau. “Something happened and I started making putts and it just worked. I was steady and focused to the end and I am so happy to be playing Evian. It is just unbelievable.”
Ricordeau caught fire between the fourth and tenth holes with five birdies during a seven-hole stretch. She made bogey on 14, but finished with birdies on 16 and 18.
“I was thinking about going home two weeks ago, but my mom told me to just stay here and try to qualify,” explained Ricordeau. “She told me something good is going to come out of this and she was right. I can’t believe I just made it, I have been struggling so much this year.”
The second place finish is her third top 10 of the season, but she had higher expectations after a full season on the LPGA in 2016.
Ricordeau stayed firm to her decision that this was her last Symetra Tour event of the season even though she jumped up to 23rd on the money list.
“I’m sure Evian will be happy to have one more French player,” said a bubbly Ricordeau. “I think it is even more special that a French player qualifies in America. I’m just so proud.”
BENYAPA WINS POTAWATOMI CUP: Benyapa Niphatsophon finished in a tie for 31st to edge Erynne Lee in the final Potawatomi Cup points standings. She earns the $6,000 bonus and finished with a total of 705 points. Lee finished just behind with 697.5 points. Lee finished in a tie for 14th at the PHC Classic.
The Potawatomi Cup started in 2014 and it provides the players with a $40,000 pool of incentive money to compete for over the course of four tournaments sponsored by Potawatomi nation tribes.
The Forest County Potawatomi Indians is the band that sponsors the PHC Classic.
Niphatsophon finished T4 at the Four Winds Invitational, T2 at the Island Resort Championship, second at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship and T31 this week to win the Potawatomi Cup.
She currently ranks second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and is in prime position to head to the LPGA next year.