May 21, 2024

Finkelstein takes Garden City Classic

GARDEN CITY, KANSAS, September 11, 2016 – Dana Finkelstein (Chandler, Arizona) stretched a five shot lead to seven at the turn and cruised to a four shot victory on Sunday at the Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes. Finkelstein carded a 1-under, 71 to finish at 11-under, 277 for the four-day tournament. Brittany Benvenuto (Langhorne, Pa.) finished second while Brittany Marchand (Orangeville, Ontario) finished third. 

Finkelstein, who led wire-to-wire after a 7-under, 65 on Thursday, moves from 13th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to fourth with her first career win and now has earned $73,282.

“I’m still at a loss for words winning by four shots,” said Finkelstein. “I came into the day with a five shot lead and thinking even-par would get it done and I shot 71 so I’m very happy.”

Finkelstein made a short par putt on 18 to wrap up the win and then was doused with water and blue gatorade, which is her favorite, by Tour friends Clariss Guce, Jenny Coleman and Kristin Coleman. 

“It’s pretty amazing getting water thrown on me by my friends,” said an overjoyed Finkelstein. “To have their support means a lot. I couldn’t do it without them. All the practice rounds and dinners makes me give lots of thanks to them.”

Finkelstein opened with three pars and then made a 3-footer for birdie on four and then a downhill putt on seven. She also saved par on nine to hold a seven shot lead at the turn. 

“I really felt like it was my week from the moment I got here, I really liked the golf course,” said Finkelstein, who made just four bogeys over the 72 holes. “My ball striking was really good so I never got into trouble and when I did I made the putts.”

Finkelstein, 23, who stands just 5-feet one inches tall, has overcome doubters throughout her golf career. 

“To all the people that said I could never do it, here is to them,” said Finkelstein. “My whole career, I’ve had the mentality of proving people wrong and it is fun when you get to do it.”

Finkelstein started working this past offseason with Brian Chandler at Anthem Fitness in Las Vegas. 

“I’ve been feeling great in the gym and in the off weeks I see him,” explained Finkelstein. “I’m happy to get on the wall of champions at the facility. Ryan Moore (PGA TOUR) beat me to it, but I think I’m second and that is pretty good company.”

The 2015 runner-up for the ANNIKA Award at UNLV, made 15 birdies against four bogeys during the four rounds. 

Finkelstein in still debating as to whether she will play in next week’s Garden City Charity Classic at Buffalo Dunes Week Two. Regardless, the win gives her a cushion with four left.

“This win is huge, especially now with four events left,” said Finkelstein. “I knew I had to make a move  eventually and I’m really happy to have done it this week. I still think I need to play well over the final four weeks and hopefully that will lock my card for 2017.”

BENVENUTO CLOSES WITH 18-FOOTER ON 18 TO FINISH 2ND: Brittany Benvenuto (Langhorne, Pa.) drained an 18-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to finish in solo second place at 7-under, 281. She posted a 3-under, 69 on the final day. 

Benvenuto moves from 20th on the money list to 16th with her payout of $14,425.

“I looked at the leaderboard when I walked up and said to Adam (her caddy) ‘look at the leaderboard’ and he said ‘just focus on the putt’ and he was right,” said Benvenuto. “I tried to put a good stroke on it and see where it went.”

Benvenuto is now firmly in the hunt for a Tour card.

“I’ve been playing well of late and you just never know what will happen out here,” said Benvenuto, who finished T5 last week in Sioux Falls. “We’ve seen girls catch fire towards the end of the year so I’m just going to keep my head down and keep going.”