California native dominates field for biggest win in career
Heading into the 54th and final hole of this year’s CoBank Colorado Women’s Open, Savannah Vilaubi held a five-shot lead over two-time champion (2013 and 2019) Becca Huffer—the same margin that had separated the two players at the start of the round.
On most courses, five strokes represents a comfortable advantage. However, as Huffer, a Denver native, knows, no lead is safe when it involves the 545-yard par-5 finisher at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club. Down three strokes to Yealimi Noh in 2019, she’d watched the Californian pump two shots into the unplayable ESA en route to a quadruple-bogey and a playoff, which Huffer won.
Lightning didn’t strike twice.
Although a birdie on the hole would have tied the event’s 16-under-par scoring record set last year by Jennifer Kupcho, the 27-year-old Southern California native—who’d birdied the hole the previous day to tie 2018 champion Lexi Harkins’ single-round record with an 8-under-par 64—played the hole conservatively. She hit an iron off the tee and took the safe route to the hole, leaving her third shot just short of the green. From there she putted twice and made par…
“I told her par was her friend,” her pro-am partner, Colorado AvidGolfer President and Group Publisher Allen J. Walters, remembered counseling seven holes earlier. After blistering the first 10 holes in 5 under, Vilaubi was up by seven shots, but nerves started to show, and her tee shot on the par-4 11th found deep rough. Rather than trying to muscle a long iron and risking a big number, she punched out and made her only bogey.
Seven pars later, she was holding the winner’s trophy and a $50,000 check. She joked it was the biggest check—both physically and fiscally—that she’s cashed as a professional.
For perspective, it’s also more than the $48,774 the former UC-Riverside golfer has earned during her five years on the Symetra Tour—a total that includes the $16,733 she made May 30th with her runner-up finish in the Mission Inn Resort & Club Championship. Her victories in the 2016 and 2019 Texas Women’s Opens produced payouts of $5,000 and $10,000, respectively.
“You guys make us feel like the professionals we strive to be,” she said addressing the organizers and volunteers during her victory speech. “You make us truly step into that next version of ourselves that we all aspire to be in our journey with golf. It’s nice to have women’s golf be as celebrated as it has been this week. We hope other tours and tournaments can learn from the example you guys set.”
Huffer’s second-place finish was worth $13,000 for the 30-year-old University of Notre Dame graduate who has toggled between the Symetra and LPGA tours. She ranks atop the Colorado Women’s Open all-time money list at $86,776. Representatives of four countries tied for third at 7 under: Laura Restrepo (Panama); Paula Reto (South Africa); Dottie Ardina (Philippines); and Jessica Dreesbeimdieke (Namibia). Dreesbeimdieke, a former University of Denver player who was low amateur in the 2016 Colorado Women’s Open, won the pro-am team portion of the competition with amateur teammate Mike Ackerman.
On the amateur side, three-time Colorado state high-school champion Hailey Schalk, who hadn’t made the cut in previous Colorado Women’s Opens, took low-amateur honors. Now a sophomore at the University of Colorado, Schalk shot a 3-under 213, one shot better than the University of Denver’s Caroline Jordaan and strong enough for a T10 overall.
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