GLENDALE, Wis. — It was a bogey-free final round performance by Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville, Virginia) of a 6-under par 66 variety that placed her into the winner’s circle for the first time in her professional career at the fourth annual PHC Classic.
She got off to a good start with birdie on the par-3 2nd, but found trouble off the tee on No. 3. A magnificent shot landed Coughlin just off the backside of the green in the rough. Needless to say, she proceeded to chip-in and shift the momentum in her favor.
“If it doesn’t hit the hole, I think it’s going really, really far by, so I got a good break there,” Coughlin said laughingly. “After that, it was just rolling the right way and I was putting myself in good positions.”
A large part of the success Coughlin found en route to an overall score of 16-under par was no three-putts. The former University of Virginia standout credits that statistic to a change she recently made.
“I switched my putter last week to the one that I used in college,” said Coughlin. “I had been struggling all year with my putting, so I just needed something and it brought some good mojo. The putts were going in.”
The win does a lot to validate where Coughlin’s game is currently at. However, it has been anything but smooth sailing for her since competing in the 2017 version of the PHC Classic.
Coughlin said her time last year in the Badger State was where she hit “rock bottom” with the game. After a first round 9-over par, Coughlin decided to withdraw, in large part because of a back injury she sustained. In the weeks that followed, the former two-time All-ACC performer struggled with a wall of doubt and mental fatigue, but she didn’t let it stop her.
By last December, the 2016 ACC Individual Champion was competing at the Final Stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, where she finished tied for seventh to capture full LPGA Tour membership for this season. The results so far in 2018, though, have been anything but pleasing for Coughlin. In 14 starts on the big stage, she has missed the cut 11 times.
“It has been a rough year on the LPGA and I haven’t played that great, but it is so nice to play well and even better to get my first win,” Coughlin said. “It definitely gives me confidence. I didn’t have great memories from here, but that certainly changed.”
Meanwhile, Dottie Ardina (Laguna, Philippines) earns her fourth runner-up result on the year. A bogey-free, 2-under par final round was not enough to capture her first career victory, as the current No. 1 in the Volvik Race for the Card finished at 15-under par for the tournament.
“I was hitting good, but I couldn’t hit the putts like I did the first day,” said Ardina. “Lauren was having a really good day with no bogeys, chipping in. It was just her day. I’m really trying hard to get that win and always trying my best.”
As the official United States qualifier for The Evian Championship, the top-two finishers earn exemption into the fifth and final major on the LPGA Tour schedule. Therefore, with their 1-2 finish, Coughlin and Ardina are headed to Evian-les-Bains, France from Sept. 13-16.
“This morning my husband [John] was like, ‘Well, if you get to France, I am coming to that one,'” Coughlin said. “He is going to have to work some stuff around, but he is going to come with me so it will be really cool.”