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Ex-intern tops FireKeepers tourney

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE | SIYUN Liu assembles a 10-under 206 en route to victory.

MICHIGAN — Clariss Guce and Pauline del Rosario will have to wait a little longer in their quest for a title this year.

On Sunday, the Filipino bets faltered with identical 74s as a former intern stormed to the spotlight with a stunning third-round 69 to capture the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship.

Guce finished tied for 28th, while Del Rosario was joint 50th in the tourney, winning $1,616, and $838, respectively.

Siyun Liu capped her performance with a 69 on the third round to fend off the charges of Amelia Garvey and secure the Epson Tour victory worth $30,000.

Liu started the day in a four-way tie for the lead at -7 with Garvey, Lindsey McCurdy, and Min-G Kim.

By the time Liu walked off the fifth hole, she was in the solo lead and held that lead until late in the round. The 23-year-old would make a birdie on No. 10 and move her lead to two shots with eight holes to play.

The only mistake of the day would come on No. 13 for Liu, which moved her into a tie for the lead with Garvey. The two athletes were tied heading into the final three holes, with Liu making a birdie on No. 17 to make it a one-shot lead heading up No. 18, which Liu would close out with a par on the difficult finishing hole.

“I am just really happy that all of my hard work has finally come to fruition,” Liu said.

“I was so nervous during the back nine of my round though. I was shaking on some of the tee boxes, and I hit a few snap hooks. I was pretty relaxed on the front nine, but towards the end you don’t have room for error. My approach shots have been consistent all week, so I was able to capitalize on that and made some putts.”

Liu has found some success early in her 2023 campaign, with a top-10 finish at an Epson Tour event and an LPGA Tour event.

The Wake Forest University alumna finished T9 at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hoakalei (LPGA Tour) and a T9 result at the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic (Epson Tour).

Liu has shown flashes of great golf in 2023, so it was only a matter of time before she was able to break through.

“It really helped being in those situations,” Liu said.

“I kept telling myself that I am good enough to win. I feel like the top players on the Epson Tour are not too far off from the top players on the LPGA Tour. I saw Grace Kim win at the LOTTE so I thought ‘If you can finish top-10 in an LPGA Tour event, you can win an Epson Tour event.’ So that made me realize I am not that far away.”

Trying to track down Liu all day was Garvey, the New Zealand native, who had a rollercoaster of a round that included three bogeys and five birdies.

Garvey was able to grab a share of the lead late in the round but was unable to convert on a putt coming in to match Liu’s birdie on No. 17. She has been trending in the right direction over the past three events, with each start resulting in a better finish.

The 2nd place finish is the best of the season for Garvey, who is now closer to the coveted top-10 spot in the Race for the Card standings.

“I’ve been playing pretty well the past six weeks, I’d say. The last two tournaments before this, I had a pretty good result,” said Garvey. “And honestly, I didn’t think this course suited me at all, so to chuck up that [a 9-under], I’m quite happy. It just shows that my game is getting there, and I can play on any course which is good because all parts of my game are firing.”

Lindsey McCurdy and Savannah Vilaubi round out the top of the leaderboard with a T3 finish at -6. Vilaubi started her tournament strong with a 67 (-5) round and was two shots off the lead heading into the final round.

She would bogey her first hole before battling back for a one-under 71 to finish at -6. McCurdy started the day at -7 before carding a one-over 73 in tough conditions to move to -6 for the tournament. Despite the over-par day, McCurdy drew from the positives the week had to offer.

“Everything was feeling good all week,” said McCurdy. “I still feel really good about everything and today wasn’t really a bad day, I just kind of felt like it really wasn’t my day. I just didn’t put it in the right positions to play well, but I am looking forward to some good momentum heading into the next event.”

Kathleen Scavo, Kaleigh Telfer, and Min-G Kim finish out the top-5 at the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship with a -5 finish.

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