Savannah Vilaubi Gets Her First Pro Win

(Photos: @savannahvilaubi/Instagram)

The second-to-last tournament of the 2015 Cactus Tour schedule concluded on Tuesday, Oct. 27, and it crowned a first-time winner: Savannah Vilaubi.

Vilaubi not only won for the first time since turning pro, but she did so by posting a career-best 64 in the final round. That is gettin' it done.

Savannah posted scores of 70, 72 and 64 to win the tournament, finishing at 10-under 206. That 64 included a birdie on the final hole, and she needed it: She beat runner-up Spencer Heller by a single stroke. In a post on Instagram afterward, Savannah wrote:

"Gratitude over anything is what I'm feeling right now, but vomiting from the nerves is a close second ... I shot a new career low of 64 to come from 4 strokes behind and get the win! I'm so thankful for the beautiful girls I got to meet and play with this tournament. The camaraderie I've experienced on the Cactus Tour is so wonderful and such a blessing to be around. I'm so thankful for the support team that's behind me including family, friends, coaches, @gbelts, and everyone else who's sent a positive thought my way."

Vilaubi turned pro earlier in 2015 after concluding her collegiate career at UC Riverside by becoming the first golfer from that school to play her way in the NCAA Women's Championship. In her senior season for the Highlanders, Savannah had five Top 10 finishes in nine starts and was named to the All-Conference team. She improved her scoring average each of her four years at UCR, lowered her personal best 54-hole scores the last two years, and set the school scoring record of 67 in her final season.

Catching Up With Brandi Seymour

What ever happened to Brandi Seymour? You might remember her - we certainly do - for her time on camera at the Golf Channel.

But Brandi's golf roots go back to her youth in Torrance, Calif., playing Western States Golf Association junior tournaments. She did well enough to earn a golf scholarship to Oregon State University. And Seymour graduated from OSU in 1999 with a degree in communications.

After her college golf career ended, Brandi went home to Southern California and went to work in the public relations field. But after a while, that just wasn't cutting it.

“My main thing, a couple years after I got out of school, was ‘How do I get back into golf?’" Seymour told the Corvallis Gazette-Times in a 2005 article.

She got back into golf by getting hired at the Golf Channel. That was in 2002, and Brandi started at the network behind-the-scenes as an associate producer for spotting and scoring.

What does that job entail?

"Knowing where all the significant action is on the golf course, where we have cameras, knowing the players' hitting order, knowing timing and selling the Senior Producer the best options for the next live shot," Brandi told Golf Babes, "as well as coordinating with the replay producer to cover anything we might not get to live."

Soon the network had Brandi hosting taped lifestyle features about the golfers, and before long she was handling post-round interviews on live broadcasts as well as producuing player features.

Brandi was a familiar and welcome face on the Golf Channel's Web.com Tour (then known as the Nationwide Tour) broadcasts, and also took part in many LPGA broadcasts.

But she left the Golf Channel in 2008, and left golf broadcasting, too.

So where is Brandi Seymour today? She went home again, leaving Florida (where Golf Channel is headquartered) for Southern California, and Seymour now works in the entertainment industry.

"I absolutely loved my time at Golf Channel but left to return to Los Angeles and have a life off the road after many years," Brandi told GolfBabes.club.

Seymour went to work on the production side of a television pilot which, alas, never aired (hey, that's Hollywood).

But she soon landed a gig at one of the top entertainment design companies in L.A. as a project manager.

"I collaborated with studio marketing executives in creating campaigns for Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, The Weinstein Company and The Los Angeles Opera. Eventually I was promoted to the position of Account Executive for our Home Entertainment/multi-media division. Working directly with clients and creative staff, we create campaigns for theatrical, home entertainment and multi-media buys."

She also works at supporting charitable foundations such as The Bridge Golf Foundation, The First Tee of South Los Angeles and Midnight Mission.

And golf? Does Brandi still play?

"Now, I play golf about twice a month or a little less with either clients, in charity events, or with friends," Brandi told us. "I have always enjoyed practicing so when I don't have time to play, I still tinker with my swing. I like to put the headphones on and zone out."

Nelly Korda Wins Stage II of LPGA Q-School

The second stage of the LPGA's 2015 Q-School is over and the winner is 17-year-old amateur Nelly Korda. Korda finished one stroke ahead of runner-up Grace Na at 3-under 284. She carded rounds of 75, 70, 70 and 69.

The Top 80 finishers in Stage II move on to the final stage of 2015 Q-School, which takes place Nov. 30-Dec. 6. And Korda will be there.

Nelly can remain an amateur if she does not earn her tour card at the final stage, a nice option to have. But if she makes it through, well, hello pro career.

The answer to that question, of course, is yes. Nelly is the younger sister of LPGA winner Jessica Korda. And in fact, the sisters pulled off quite the feat just a couple weeks ago: They recorded wins on back-to-back days. Jessica Korda won the LPGA Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Oct. 11, 2015. The next day, Nelly won the AJGA Ping Invitational.

And the Ping Invitational is one of the biggies in junior golf. Nelly didn't just win that tournament, she dominated, winning by 11 shots.

Korda is currently ranked No. 4 in the Polo junior rankings and she's having an exceptional year. She won in June at the Yani Tseng Invitational; was runner-up at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship; and has multiple other Top 6 finishes in AJGA tournaments.

And Nelly began 2015 with a huge victory in the Harder Hall Women’s Invitational. In Golfweek's rankings, Nelly is No. 45 among amateur women worldwide, and No. 3 among junior girls.

(Photos: @nellykorda/Instagram)

Maria Rodriguez is a 'Model' Golfer

You've probably already "met" Maria Rodriguez, even if you don't realize it. She's the golfer behind a viral Instagram video that's been making the rounds recently, including being featured by Golf Digest. Here is that video:

Things you can do with a big butt and a good golf swing 🍑⛳️ @nanimerchi

A video posted by @marirodriguez on

Maria Rodriguez is the one hitting the shot; her University of South Florida teammate Maria Merchan is the one whose booty is the "tee." (Is that brave, or nuts? Kids - don't try this at home!)

Rodriguez is in her junior season as a member of the USF women's golf team. She's originally from Cali, Colombia, but moved to Florida to attend high school at the IMG Academy. Her brother Carlos plays on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

Maria didn't make the tournament day roster as a freshman, but last season was a breakout one for her and she made the roster in all nine of South Florida's tournaments. Maria had 5 Top 25 finishes, including two in the Top 10, with a best finish of second place at the Florida Challenge.

And if you look at her Instagram page beyond the video she posted that's currently getting so much attention, you'll learn something else about Maria: She's a model. Or at least she's working at being a model. And if that's what she wants, then these photos she's shared on Instagram say she has a great chance to make her mark in that realm, too:

In addition to her Instagram page linked above, you can follow Maria on Twitter or check out her website.

Rachael McQueen

Rachael McQueen got some bad news earlier this year when visa issues meant she wouldn't be able to continue working as a PGA instructor at the Golf House Tennessee Learning Center (run by the Tennessee Golf Association). So she packed her bags and headed home to Troon, Scotland.

"I loved living in Nashville and I miss my friends so much," Rachael told us.

But this change also presented an opportunity. Rachael was spending so much time working on other golfers' games that she hadn't spent much time on her own. Going home meant being able to concentrate on her own game.

"It's been great being home and finally pursuing my dream to be on tour," McQueen said. In Tennessee, working as an instructor, she "found it difficult to juggle working and practicing. Now I'm able to focus fully on my own game."

That renewed focus on her own game means that Rachael is entering Ladies European Tour Q-School late this year.

And an old friend has helped her out with a taste of tour life. McQueen's good friend Carly Booth brought her out on tour as her caddie in several LET tournaments. "She took me to France to help give me an insight into what it was like on the European tour," said McQueen.

That combo prompted us to tweet that Rachael and Carly made up the "hottest tour player/caddie combo .... ever!"

"Carly and I have been best friends for about nine years so we go way back," Rachael told us. "It's been great catching up and playing golf with her again. She is so supportive of me going to tour school and keeps telling me to hurry up and get my butt on tour so we can travel together."

Rachael took a somewhat unusual path into golf, given that none of her immediate family are golfers (although her uncle was Scottish Boys champion way back when) and she didn't take up the game until she was 14.

"The Open Championship came to Troon in 2004 and I just fell in love with the sport," she said.

But although Rachael picked up the sport late, she took to it quickly. Before long she was Ayshire County champion, and she was a Scottish Girls international in 2008. She graduated from the golf management and coaching program at Elmwood College in Scotland, then first came to the United States to play golf at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. After two seasons as an NJCAA All-American, McQueen took a job teaching golf as an Assistant Golf Professional at Golf House Tennessee.

And next up for Rachael: LET Q-School, pre-qualifying mid-December and final qualifying Dec. 18-21.

You can follow Rachael on Twitter (@rachmcqueen) or Instagram (@rachmcqueen).

It's a Go for Brianna Do and 9 Other Symetra Tour Grads

The 2015 Symetra Tour schedule finished on Sunday at the Symetra Tour Championship, after which the Top 10 players in the final money list standings were awarded their LPGA Tour cards for next year.

Congrats to these members of the Symetra Tour's "graduating class" of 2015:

1. Annie Park, $68,673
2. Giulia Molinaro, $68,632
3. Brianna Do, $64,877
4. Daniela Iacobelli, $62,692
5. Dani Holmqvist, $62,160
6. Lee Lopez, $61,731
7. Alejandra Llaneza, $61,289
8. Vicky Hurst, $57,814
9. Casey Grice, $55,621
10. Rachel Rohanna, $53,867

I want to point out what Brianna Do managed to do: This woman is clutch.

Two tournaments before season's end, Do was on the outside looking in. She stood at 18th on the money list. If Brianna finished there, it would have exempted her into the final stage of LPGA Q-School.

But who wants to play Q-School? Nobody! So Brianna did something about it.

With just two weeks to go to get into the Top 10, Do finished second at the IOA Golf Classic. She earned $9,342 and moved up from 18th to 12th position. Still two places to go, though.

And at the season-ending tour championship? Another second-place finish for Do. That earned her $13,840 and bumped her from 12th all way into her final position of third on the money list.

Hello, LPGA Tour card.

Brianna had four other Top 10s on the year, including another runner-up earlier in the season.

Brianna played on the American team at the 2007 Junior Solheim Cup and was a 3-time AJGA All-American as a junior golfer. While at UCLA (Lee Lopez, sixth on the money list, is also a Bruin), Do won the 2011 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship.

She turned pro in 2012. And following three full years of seasoning on the Symetra Tour, Brianna is LPGA-bound in 2016.

Congrats to all 10 graduates. See you next year on the LPGA. Read more about the Symetra Tour's 2015 graduates here.

A Win for Lexi Thompson in Korea

A little Korean barbecue went a long way for Lexi Thompson this week, and she basted it in tour sauce. Lexi won the 2015 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship by one shot.

She was one behind entering the final round, but carded a 69 that included a late birdie on the 15th hole. That proved the edge she needed, and Lexi finished one shot ahead of runners-up Yani Tseng and Sung Hyun Park.

It was Thompson's second LPGA win of the year. She won back in June at the Meijer LPGA Classic. And it was the sixth overall win of her (still very young) LPGA career to date.

Jessica Korda Wins in Malaysia

When you're trying to get back on the victory sheet after a period of sub-par play, weekend rounds of 65-65 really help. That's what Jessica Korda shot in the third and fourth rounds of the 2015 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. In fact, the back-to-back 65s were the best rounds Korda has shot this year.

And Jessica finished at 18-under, the second-best winning score in event history. She won by four shots over the formidable runner-up trio of Lydia Ko, Shanshan Feng and Stacy Lewis.

Was this victory unexpected? In one way, no: Korda is, after all, one of the bright young stars of the LPGA with three previous victories under her belt. And she finished second in the tour's season-opener. But she had missed 8 of 12 cuts going into Malaysia, was left off the American Solheim Cup team, and had no Top 10s since that season-opener.

Hopefully, this mean that Jessica is gone, and the Korda we know - the one who regularly contends and occasionally wins - is back with us.

Olivia Cowan Wins LETAS' 2015 Order of Merit

Olivia Cowan may be dressed for the cold in the photo above, but she was on fire for much of 2015. And on Sunday she capped it off by winning the Order of Merit on the LET Access Series, which means Olivia has membership on the Ladies European Tour in 2016.

Olivia tied an LETAS record with three wins this season, two of which she recorded while still an amateur. (Her amateur victories this year include the Portuguese International Ladies Amateur Championship and the Spanish Ladies' Amateur Championship.)

After turning pro, Cowan won again, at the Norrporten Ladies Open.

Cowan went into the season-ending WPGA International Challenge leading the OOM, and already guaranteed her LET card for next year. But it's always more fun to win your way onto the big tour rather than "only" qualify. (Although "only" qualifying is pretty darn good, too!)

Cowan, from Germany, will be 20 years old when her rookie year on the LET begins next season. And she's definitely one to watch.

Meredith Kirk Makes GD's Top Teachers List

Congratulations to golf instructor (and beauty queen) Meredith Kirk, who is included in the 2015 rankings by Golf Digest of the country's top teaching professionals. Meredith made it into the state-by-best "best of" list for South Carolina:

The new top teachers ranking is included in the November issue of the magazine. As you may be able to see in the image above, Meredith is based at Blackmoor Golf Club in Murrells Inlet, S.C. Want to sign up for lessons? You can book online at Meredith's website.

It's no surprise that Kirk made the list: She was on last year's Best Young Teachers in America ranking.

More Meredith Kirk on Golf Babes

1st Pro Win for Erynne Lee

Erynne Lee is barely a pro, but she's already a pro winner.

Erynne - a k a "Ernie" - graduated from UCLA just a few months ago. On Wednesday in Arizona, she earned her first victory as a professional golfer, winning Cactus Tour Event No. 25 at Las Colinas. Lee did it in style, too, shooting a final-round 66. The 66 included seven birdies. Lee opened with birdies on four of her first five holes, then closed it out with birdies on her final two holes. She also birdied four of the five par-5 holes in the round.

That 66 got Erynne in at 14-under 202, good for a three-shot victory. You can view the final scores here.

Erynne is originally from Washington. You might remember that she was the very first significant casualty of the new groove rules introduced a few years back when she was DQ'd from a U.S. Women's Open qualifier - after winning it - at age 16 back in 2010. Oops! Mistakes happen. It's how you bounce back from them that matters.

That was far from the biggest obstacle Lee has dealt with in recent years. In her freshman year at UCLA, Erynne lost her mother. She told the Daily Bruin this year:

My life took a pause while the rest of the world continued. Like a robot but emotionally distraught, I would wake up, go to class, practice, study and lock myself in my dorm room. I sank into a mire of a pathetic routine. It took me a while to get back on my feet, both emotionally and mentally, in school and out on the golf course.

Through the relentless encouragement and perseverance of my support group and my 'just keep swimming' attitude, I started living in the present, appreciating the little things that we so often take for granted and eventually enjoying my time at UCLA.

Despite that tragedy, Erynne pulled herself together and managed to have a terrific freshman year on the UCLA golf team. She recorded her first NCAA victory and posted six Top 10 finishes. More of the same followed: one win and seven Top 10s as a sophomore; one win and eight Top 10s as a junior. And in her recently completed senior season, another win plus six Top 10s.

Along the way Erynne played her way into the 2008 and 2011 U.S. Women's Opens, and was a member of Team USA at the 2014 Curtis Cup.

Paige Spiranac Begins Pro Career With 68

Here's the tweet that trick-shot artist and Internet sensation Paige Spiranac sent out today:

Great start for Paige and hopefully puts to rest the thought (in some quarters, certainly not at Golf Babes) that Paige's talents were mainly marketing and not golf. Yes, she's great at the former as her tens of thousands of social media fans know. But she's also a talented golfer, as her multiple Top 10 college finishes at San Diego State University showed.

Perhaps that's what she had in mind a couple weeks ago when she tweeted this:

As for the tournament Spiranac played today: It's an event on the Cactus Tour, you can keep up with scores here.

And yes, it's the first pro tour event Paige has played as a professional golfer. She opened with six straight pars before birdying the 7th. She added birdies on 12, 14 and 15 and finished at 4-under 68, without a single bogey.

She had to be feeling some pressure at the beginning of the start. By any measure a bogey-free 68 is a great first pro round; for Paige, even moreso. Here's hoping she keeps it up.

Follow Paige on Instagram or on Twitter.

Hally Leadbetter

Hally Leadbetter comes from a great golf family. Her mother won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship the first two years it was played. She was known as Kelly Fuiks back then. And Hally's father ... um ... I forget who her father is.

So when Hally decided to pursue tournament golf - to play in front of crowds and media - you have to think her name created a little extra pressure for her. Plenty of advantages, too, of course - travel opportunities, chances to meet people, relationships and friendships established. Maybe a few free pointers. But when you're the daughter of one of the most famous golf instructors who's ever lived - oh, right, that's who her father is - it helps if you're good at golf, too.

And Hally is very good at golf. Although it didn't start out that way. According to an article in Golfweek, when Hally decided to give golf a try in middle school, she shot 136 in her first 18-hole round.

Hally played golf in high school at the IMG David Leadbetter Academy and got good enough fast enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Arkansas.

She redshirted as a sophomore, then transferred to Rollins College, where she is now a senior in golf eligibility. In her two years at Rollins she's been named second team All-America both years.

"Rollins is the No. 1 D2 (NCAA Division II) team in the country," Hally said. "We finished second at the National Championships last year. My biggest goal for us this year is to finish first."

Rollins may be D2, but it has a big advantage for Leadbetter: A Florida school, it's very close to home. Besides, it's one of the best women's golf programs regardless of division. (USA Today recently ranked Rollins No. 11 overall.)

Hally, 22, is active on campus, too. A major in Communication Studies, she cohosts a show on the school's radio station, WPRK. And she's on the executive board for the school's Student Athletic Advisory Committee.

Hally is big on social media (Instagram: hallyleadbetter; Twitter: @hallyleadbetter) and if she makes you smile, well, mission accomplished.

"My biggest passion is to make people smile and laugh," Hally said. "I'm a pretty silly person."

But serious about golf. In the 2013-14 season, Leadbetter posted two Top 10s including her first college victory at the Lady Bucs Invitational.

In the 2014-15 season, Hally had four Top 10s. That included a pair of fourth-place finishes, plus runner-up at the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational, hosted by Rollins.

And she teed off her 2015-16 season with her second college win at the Ross Resorts Invitational a couple weeks ago.

Oh, her biggest win yet happened at 2013 Women's Southern Amateur, one of the top amateur tournaments in the United States.

What happens when her senior year is over? Hally plans to turn pro and play golf in Europe.

Ultimately, she wants to put that Communications degree to work: "I would love to combine my passion for golf, knowledge of the game, and humor into a career in broadcast journalism for golf. My ultimate goal is to become an analyst on Golf Channel, ESPN or Sky Sport."

(Photos courtesy of Hally Leadbetter; above, with Michelle Wie; middle, with Annabel Rolley.)