But it made sense. She had lost confidence in her game and needed a boost. She had lost her exempt status on the LPGA Tour and needed a place to play. She had earned less than $45,000 in her last two LPGA seasons, in which for the first time, she had to enter tournaments as a non-exempt player. Fergon felt she had no choice but to toss away her pride and join the fresh-faced LPGA Tour hopefuls if she wanted to continue playing competitive golf.
And by Sunday afternoon at the $70,000 IOS Futures Golf Classic, the 47-year-old tour veteran had kept her patience playing in the kind of wind that puts grit in your teeth. She won the war of attrition in steady 30 mph winds with gusts of up to 40 mph, recording a 2-over-par final-round score of 74 to finish at even-par 216, one stroke better than Nadine Ash of Richards Bay, South Africa, who was the days best wind cheater. Ash was the only player in the field to post a sub-par round at 1-under 71 at the 6,364-yard, wind-battered Underwood Golf Complex, Sunrise Course. She used only 24 putts for the round with 10 on the back nine holes.
'Maybe my experience helped keep me focused and calm in adverse conditions,' said Fergon, who hasnt played in an LPGA tournament in six months. 'I knew these conditions would eventually bring the good players to the top.'
Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla., led all day Sunday, building as much as a three-shot lead after eight holes. And she maintained her lead, if only by a single shot, as the field fell victim to winds that had players backing off their putts and second-guessing club selections all week. The former University of Tulsa player, who had earned her first professional win the previous week in windy Wichita, Kan., had shown a prowess in blustery conditions. She seemed in control and poised to win her second consecutive Futures Tour tournament coming down the stretch.
But at the par-3 17th hole, Prammanasudh pured a 5-iron that landed 20 yards short. Her chip blew beyond the hole and the Oklahoman couldnt get up and down for par from eight feet, dropping to even par for the tournament with a hole to play. Bad got worse and Prammanasudhs drive on 18 found a right fairway bunker. She chunked her bunker shot, which found a water hazard in front of the green. After a drop, Prammanasudh tried to hole a 93-yard gap wedge approach for a chance to tie Fergon and force a playoff. But it took two putts to get home and Prammanasudh doubled the last for a final-round 78 to finish third at 3-over 218.
'I cant be disappointed,' said Prammanasudh, who remains at the top of the Futures Tour Money List with earnings of $20,141 in four events. 'Even if you hit good shots, you dont always know how the ball is going to react in the wind. It was an endurance test.'
Attrition took a toll on Candy Hannemann of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who was in second place after 36 holes, as well as on Allie Blomquist of Afton, Minn., who was tied for third with Fergon after two rounds. Hannemann carded an 80 on Sunday to drop into a tie for sixth with Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla., and Jan Dowling of Bradford, Ontario. Blomquist posted a 78 to finish tied for fourth with Kristen Bloomer of Moberly Mo.
And Fergon, who becomes the only woman to win on the LPGA Tour, Futures Tour and Womens Senior Golf Tour, was the last one standing. At the 18th hole, her 30-foot putt stopped a foot and a half short of the hole. Fergon marked her ball and looked at the leader board beside the 18th green. It was then that she saw that Prammanasudh had bogeyed the 17th and that they were tied for the lead at even par.
'I told myself to keep my head still, keep my grip loose and to make that putt,' said Fergon, who has three LPGA Tour wins and one win on the Womens Senior Golf Tour. The par putt found the bottom of the cup.
And she notched another milestone when Prammanasudh suffered a double-bogey at 18. Fergon was the winner at an event she had forced herself to enter ' on a tour designed to develop the games of up-and-coming professionals and help them get to the LPGA Tour.
'I knew there were some good players on this Tour and even with all my years on the LPGA Tour, I didnt come out here expecting to win,' said Fergon, who pocketed a $9,800 winners check and a $500 check for a hole-in-one in the first round from the Donald T. Ostop Weekly Player Hole-in-One Challenge. 'This tells me that even though Im not a youngster, I can still play. Golf knows no age and no humility.'
And the future still looks bright for tour veteran Vicki Fergon.
Full coverage of the IOS Futures Golf Classic