After a morning filled with weather delays, the final round of the 2023 Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout has come to a close. Thanks to the hard work of the Mystic Creek Golf Club maintenance staff, the field was able to battle into near darkness to complete the 54-hole event, with Natasha Andrea Oon eventually coming out on top by three shots.
Oon has been knocking at the door all season, trying to take home her first Epson Tour victory. The rookie has four runner-up finishes on the season, losing in a playoff twice. Now, Oon can officially say she is an Epson Tour champion. The Malaysia native nearly went bogey-free to emphasize her win; her only hiccup came on No. 16 on her way to a 3-under 69 to close out her tournament. A front nine 32 highlighted by an eagle on No. 5 would be all Oon needed to hold on to her win, which was a long time coming.
“I’ve been in this position before, so I decided to let go. Whatever happens, happens,” said Oon. “I tried to visualize my shots and accept everything that comes out of it because I really worked hard for everything. Last time on the runner-ups, I pushed and pushed. This round I let go, and that eagle really helped me.”
Oon had an up-and-down event, leading after round one, but came into the final round down two shots. As Oon said, she let go, and it showed. The moment was not too big, and everything flowed well when needed. A little bit of luck never hurt, and with 10 being her favorite number, Oon feels like everything was just meant to be this week.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Oon. “It was such a rollercoaster of an event, so it’s pretty cool just to see it all tie up together. My favorite number is 10, and I finished 10-under, so I’m thinking wow, 10 is really my number.”
Carley Cox was in the group in front of Oon, trying to chase down the eventual champion all day. Cox rolled in six birdies on the day but had a few bogeys, which are hard to avoid at Mystic Creek Golf Club. The 26-year-old showed resilience all day, no more so than making four straight birdies after a double-bogey on No. 10. Cox is on an impressive stretch of golf, finishing in the top-3 in back-to-back tournaments and moving into the top 35 in the Race For The Card. If she is able to maintain her position over the next two weeks, she will punch her ticket directly into the LPGA Q-Series for 2023.
“I took my medicine at times and got aggressive at times,” said Cox. “I got a little too aggressive on 10; it kind of bit me, I made double. But then I had four birdies, so it was a good bounce back, and I think it definitely shifted momentum there.”
Robyn Choi ended her Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout in a tie for second with Cox. Choi did what she has done best this year on the Epson Tour: making cuts and finishing inside the top 10 for the week. With another cut made, Choi has made all 20 cuts this season and collected her sixth top-10 finish of the season. Now, after one of the more impressive campaigns of 2023, the Australian is in the top 10 in the Race for the Card with just two tournaments to play as she looks to secure her LPGA Tour card for 2024.
“I was just trying to be smart this week and not play too aggressive, but take my chances when I had them,” explained Choi. “I honestly had no idea I was in second coming down No. 18, I didn’t look at the leaderboard, but it is such a good finish. Hopefully I can just keep this momentum rolling for the last two events and just see what happens after that.”
Rounding out the top of the leaderboard are Jillian Hollis, Isabella Fierro, Kristen Gillman, and Karen Chung, who all finished in a tie for fourth at 6-under par for the tournament.