Epson Tour ‘relic,’ former AJGA champ share lead at Otter Creek Championship

Savannah Vilaubi

Savannah Vilaubi describes herself as a “relic” on the Epson Tour.

The 30-year-old Downey, California native has been on the LPGA’s feeder tour since 2016 and spent the 2022 season in the LPGA. But she lost her LPGA Tour Card and is trying to make it back through the Epson Tour.

Vilaubi could take a huge step toward regaining that card by winning the Otter Creek Championship on Sunday. She put herself in position by firing a 4-under-par 68 Saturday to move into a tie for the lead at 9-under 135.

“It’s been a lot of unmemorable rounds of golf (prior to this weekend),” Vilaubi said. “I knew I was close to something, and we’ve been working really hard since the season began. It feels right. It feels like the physical game and the mental game are synced up right now.”

Vilaubi had opened with a 67 on Friday. She had six birdies and two bogeys in her round of 68 on Saturday.

“It felt really good to put two good back-to-back rounds together,” Vilaubi said. “It’s just working a lot on the process lately, so it just feels like the results are finally catching up to all the work that we’ve done, my coaches and me, my husband and family. It felt good just to finally have a good result.”

Brooke Matthews

Brooke Matthews, who shared the first-round lead at 7-under 65, followed that with a 70 on Saturday and is tied with Vilaubi at 9-under. Matthews got as low as 10-under after eight holes.

The 25-year-old Matthews is familiar with Otter Creek. The Rogers, Arkansas, native and former University of Arkansas golfer won the AJGA Tournament at Otter Creek in 2016.

Vilaubi and Matthews will tee off in the final group at 11:54 a.m. Sunday, along with Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand. Phatlum is in third place at 8-under 136.

Haylee Harford, a Leavittsburg, Ohio native now living in South Carolina, and first-round co-leader and Tokyo native Saki Baba are tied for fourth at 7-under 137. Yahui Zhang of China and Antonia Malate of Seaside, California, are tied for sixth at 6-under 138.

Two Central Indiana golfers are tied for 26th at 2-under 142. Center Grove and Duke graduate Erica Shepherd and Zionsville and Clemson graduate Annabelle Pancake both shot 72 Saturday after opening with 70s on Friday.

“I definitely didn’t strike the ball very well,” Shepherd said. “I’ve kind of been getting better with my ball striking the past few weeks, and that just wasn’t really there today. I was able to hold it together with some good chips and putts. So it felt good that even if I don’t hit it perfect, I can kind of scramble around.”

The field was cut to the low 60 and ties after Saturday’s round. Shepherd made the cut for the second week in a row after missing the first seven of the season.

“I came into this week wanting to win,” Shepherd said. “Making the cut is always good. The first seven events out here (on the Epson Tour), I actually didn’t make the cut, so it’s a good feeling to make the cut and have a chance to go low tomorrow, so I’m excited about that.”

The other Central Indiana player in the field, former Westfield and University of Indianapolis golfer Cailyn Henderson improved by eight shots over her first round score with a 75, but missed the cut.