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Meadow thrilled to hold nerve and retain card

 

Ice cold: Stephanie Meadow
Ice cold: Stephanie Meadow
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Stephanie Meadow rolled in one of the most 'clutch' putts in recent memory on Sunday evening in Texas.

The Jordanstown girl needed a huge finish to hold onto her LPGA card and join fellow Ulster star Leona Maguire on Tour next season.

Maguire had earlier that day cruised up to the top tier of US golf when she carded a final-round 71 and finished 33rd at the Symetra Tour Championship. That was enough to secure a fifth-place finish in the back-up circuit's Race for the Card rankings, which had 10 positions available.

Attention then turned to Meadow, who required a top-eight finish or better at the Volunteers of America Classic to retain her playing rights for 2020.

It had taken a super Sunday display to put her back into contention. An opening eight-under 63 had put her well in the mix but 71 and 73 on Friday and Saturday had harmed her chances.

Three-under for Sunday through 14, she was back in the game, but after a bogey at 15, it became apparent that two birdies could well be required.

When her eagle putt rolled out just inches short on the 17th, it set up a grandstand finish and it all came down to a 25-foot birdie attempt.

Hole it and the Jordanstown woman's LPGA Tour card was safe for next season. Miss and it was cheerio to full playing rights.

One smooth stroke, the ball dropped and Meadow punched the air. Talk about a 'clutch' putt.

"No feeling in the world like it," she tweeted with a video of her emotional celebration. "Could watch this putt all day."

It marks a delightful end to the 2019 season for Meadow, who won the inaugural ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm in August.

Kevin Na, meanwhile, triumphed in a play-off against Patrick Cantlay to claim the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

Na and Cantlay - tied on 23-under - both birdied the first additional hole, meaning they had to play the 18th for a third time. Cantlay missed a five-foot putt, but Na made no mistake to make par and win.

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