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Ally McDonald battles for second at LPGA’s Pelican Women’s Championship

She enters Sunday’s final round five strokes behind leader Sei Young Kim, cuts the deficit to three, but ultimately comes up short.
Sei Young Kim fist bumps competitors Ally McDonald and Stephanie Meadow, right, on the green after winning the Pelican Women's Championship at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020.
Sei Young Kim fist bumps competitors Ally McDonald and Stephanie Meadow, right, on the green after winning the Pelican Women's Championship at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 23, 2020
Updated Nov. 23, 2020

BELLEAIR — Ally McDonald knew she was within reach of leader Sei Young Kim a handful of times this weekend at the inaugural Pelican Women’s Championship.

But Kim’s consistency on the course and a five-shot lead over McDonald heading into Sunday’s final round proved too much to overcome.

“She got out to such a big lead on the last few holes,” said McDonald, who shot a final-round 68 for 11-under 269, three shots behind Kim (70). “I’m really happy with how I played.”

The 28-year-old from Mississippi is next scheduled to compete in the Volunteers of America Classic at The Colony, Texas, on Dec. 3. McDonald most recently won the Drive On Championship in Greensboro, Ga., in October, her first victory on the LPGA Tour.

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On Sunday, McDonald worked herself out of trouble a handful of times on the back nine. She had momentum, pulling within three strokes after Kim’s bogey on the par-3 ninth dropped her to 14 under.

On the par-3 12th, where McDonald made a hole-in-one Saturday, her tee shot fell short of the green, the ball sitting on the side of a mound. But her chip landed within 5 feet of the pin to save par.

On the par-4 16th, McDonald’s drive landed just on the edge of a bunker. She eventually bogeyed the hole, falling to 10 under, five back of Kim.

“I hung in there,” she said.

Professional golfer Ally McDonald makes a shot during the final round of the Pelican Women's Championship at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair on Sun., Nov. 22, 2020.
Professional golfer Ally McDonald makes a shot during the final round of the Pelican Women's Championship at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair on Sun., Nov. 22, 2020. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

McDonald was tied for second with Stephanie Meadow at 10 under heading to the par-4 18th hole. She lined up on the tee with her 4-hybrid club and whacked the drive down the fairway, finishing with a birdie putt for her 2-under round. Meadow (69) bogeyed the hole and finished third.

“That shot on 18 for me is probably one of the best shots I’ve ever hit, just under the circumstances and everything,” McDonald said. “I just committed to my shot. I had a good number, and I just wanted to finish the round off with a good look for birdie and hopefully give myself a solo second.”

How bay area players fared

Bradenton native Jessica Korda had six birdies Sunday to move up the leaderboard. Her 6-under 64 allowed her to finish at 7-under 273, tied for sixth.

Professional golfer Jessica Korda, warms up at the 10th tee  during the first round of the Pelican Women's Championship, Pelican Golf Club, Belleair, Thursday, November 19, 2020.
Professional golfer Jessica Korda, warms up at the 10th tee during the first round of the Pelican Women's Championship, Pelican Golf Club, Belleair, Thursday, November 19, 2020. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Tampa resident Elizabeth Szokol (67) dropped back after consecutive bogeys on the front nine, finishing at 5-under 275, good for 10th place.

Fellow Tampa resident Brittany Altomare (68) had four birdies in the final round, which followed three straight bogeys on the front nine. She tied for 15th at 1 under. Former Seminole High standout and two-time major winner Brittany Lincicome (70) tied for 46th at 6-over 286. Former University of Florida golfer and Orlando native Sierra Brooks shot 71 for a third straight day, finishing at 7-over 287.

Quick hit

The Pelican Women’s Championship trophy — which doesn’t have an official name — will have Kim’s name engraved on the base. Kim also will receive a smaller replica of the trophy.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.