Paige Spiranac won for the first time as a professional golfer today on the Cactus Tour.
It was Cactus Tour Event No. 16, played at Orange Tree Golf Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. Spiranac finished at 3-under 213 after closing with a 68, which was the second-best score posted (by anyone) during the event.
That 213 total tied Spiranac with amateur phenom Hannah O'Sullivan (who shot 72 in the final round). O'Sullivan won on the Symetra Tour at age 16 and is a Curtis Cupper. She might only be 18 years old, but she's already a "name" player in the game.
O'Sullivan and Spiranac advanced into a playoff, and Paige won it on the first extra hole.
Spiranac has taken a lot of grief from a lot of quarters because of the way she first gained attention: as a social media star. And, in my humble opinion, almost all of that grief was unwarranted. Hey, if you want to be mad that Golf Digest puts a sexily dressed Spiranac on its cover, go right ahead. But be mad at Golf Digest, not Paige: No golfer - not a single one - would have turned down an opportunity to be a GD cover girl. All Spiranac is doing in cases like this is taking advantage of opportunities presented to her - just as any other golfer in the game would do.
Paige made light of some of the (wholly unwarranted) controversy around her by tweeting after the victory:
Yes, she can break 80. She can even win tournaments.
How good she can be as a golfer is up in the air. Most people who try to make a living at professional golf ultimately fail, after all. Three things you can be sure of: Spiranac has talent, takes it seriously and works hard at her game.
Her friend Tisha Abrea finished third in the Cactus Tour tournament and tweeted this congratulatory note, including a photo of Paige with her trophy:
A few of the Instagram clips that helped make Paige famous: