It was Ladies Day on Tuesday at Henderson’s Rio Secco Golf Club, as Natalie Gulbis, Cristie Kerr and Stacy Lewis put on a show in winning the Wendy’s 3Tour Challenge.
The LPGA Tour team posted a score of 17 under par to capture the first-place prize of $500,000. It defeated the Champions Tour team of Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer and Fred Funk by one shot and the PGA Tour team of Jason Day, Boo Weekley and Billy Horschel by nine.
The teams played 18 holes on the par-72 Rio Secco course, with the two best scores on each hole counting toward the team score. The made-for-TV event will be shown Dec. 18 on The Golf Channel.
“We wanted to win this year, especially after we lost in a playoff last year,” said Gulbis, a Lake Las Vegas resident who spends a lot of time at Rio Secco working with renowned golf instructor Butch Harmon.
The LPGA last had won the Wendy’s event in 2009, when Kerr teamed with Gulbis and Suzann Pettersen.
“It’s very competitive out here,” Kerr said. “But everyone on the team contributed, and that’s what it takes to win this event.”
The event, played for the 22nd consecutive year, raised a record $4.1 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. This was the final year of the current format with the hamburger chain as the sponsor, and if the 3Tour Challenge remains, it could be with a new format, sponsor and location.
The LPGA team led by three strokes after nine holes, with Lewis birdieing six of the holes.
“I was hitting it pretty good,” said Lewis, who spent part of 2013 as the No. 1 player on the tour. “Getting off to a fast start really helped.”
The lead still was three through 14 holes. But Perry then made four consecutive birdies to pull the Champions team within one stroke.
Perry had a chance to force a playoff at the par-4 18th, but he just missed a 6-foot birdie putt, giving the LPGA team its sixth win in the event.
Gulbis’ round included four birdies, and her score counted on all 18 holes. She credited her coach, Harmon, for her stellar play.
“I’ve spent the last couple of weeks here working with Butch, and we worked on a few things,” Gulbis said. “I struck it much better, and I played consistent.”
Kerr made birdies at the par-3 16th, rolling in a 15-foot putt, and the par-5 17th as the LPGA fought off the Champions’ challenge.
“We’ve been so close, it feels great to finally win again,” Kerr said.
The PGA team struggled all day. Horschel had a sinus infection, and while he birdied four of his final nine holes, he took a quadruple bogey at No. 18 and finished at par. Weekley struggled with his putting, and Day never found a rhythm.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.