BELLEAIR, FLA | Morgane Metraux has ended her rookie season on the LPGA Tour exactly how she ended her last season on the Epson Tour: With high stakes and lots of pressure right up until her final putt.
Last year, Metraux entered the Epson Tour Championship 10th in the Ascensus Race for the Card. She finished the tournament at T17, bumping her to ninth and securing her LPGA Tour Membership for 2022.
Entering the Pelican Women’s Championship, Metraux was ranked No. 101 in the Race to the CME Globe. In order to retain her LPGA Tour card for the 2023 season, Metraux would need to turn in a strong performance and break into the top 100.
Sunday, Metraux posted a 6-under 64 in her final round of the season – her best since a second round 62 at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational – to finish T4 and leapfrog to 85th in the Race to the CME Globe, successfully protecting her Tour status. Safe to say, Metraux thrives under pressure.
“Obviously this week was more than just a tournament for me, a lot was on the line,” Metraux said, coming off the 18th green. “I think yesterday I struggled a little bit more with that. Today it was more like just go for it.
“Great, great happy. I did not want to go to Q-Series, so I’m happy I can go back to play the final in Europe now. I don’t really have words, to be honest. Everything is a little bit overwhelming.”
Like she said, the demand of playing to keep her job certainly showed in the second round of the tournament. After opening the weekend with a respectable first-round 66, Metraux carded four bogeys en route to a 71 on Saturday.
“When you’re playing to win you already feel like you’re playing really well if you’re in a position to win the tournament, so you can build confidence on that,” Metraux said. “If you’re playing to keep your job it means you haven’t done quite as good, so I think it’s more pressure. It’s like playing to make the cut on the last hole versus playing to win the tournament. They’re both pressure, but I think the pressure of making the cut is harder.”
Luckily, Metraux found a way to live with that strain on Sunday. She turned in a spotless card, starting with four birdies on the front nine to move to 7-under par. The 25-year-old hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 27 putts to get through the course. Though she was already in good position after she made the turn, she told her caddy she needed a few more birdies before she put her clubs away.
“Instead of thinking ‘I’m in a good place, just make pars and you’ll be fine,’ I wanted to keep pushing and tell myself I need more birdies to get closer to the lead,” Metraux explained. “That’s the mindset I had. At some point I made a couple pars in a row, and I thought, ‘okay, now it’s time to make birdies again.’”
Her T4 finish at the Pelican Women’s Championship is a career best result for Metraux. Her only other top 10 came in September at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G where she went 10-under to tie for 10th.
Metraux’s rookie season was a turbulent one. After four straight missed cuts in the spring, Metraux finished 12th at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer and was able to bring some confidence into the latter half of the season.
“I had a good first event because I had no expectations,” Metraux said. “After that I was just thinking, ‘oh my God, this is the best tour in the world; do I really belong here?’ Then off the course I started struggling a little bit too, so that played into my game. I was able to go back home and figure some stuff out and came back. I got 12th in ShopRite and that was the turning point for me where I realized I can do this, I belong here. That really gave me some momentum and confidence for the rest of the season.”
But after a string of three missed cuts in the fall, Metraux took four weeks off heading into the Pelican Women’s Championship to work on her game and spend some time at home.
“After my last event in California I was very upset at myself and disappointed because I had missed a few cuts in a row, and I wanted to have this break knowing that I was fine for next year,” Metraux said. “I didn’t manage to do that, so I took those four weeks to reset, work on my game, and feel like I was in a good place coming in here.”
There’s something else about the Pelican Women’s Championship that was similar to the Epson Tour Championship for Metraux: her dad, Oliver. Saturday, Oliver was in Saudi Arabia, caddying for Morgane’s sister, Kim, at the Aramco Team Series. Sunday morning, Oliver was driving to Pelican Golf Club from the Orlando International Airport to see his daughter play her final round.
Last year, Oliver caddyed for her through those four stressful rounds of the season-ending event. This year, though he wasn’t Metraux’s caddie, he made sure to be by his daughter’s side once again when the stakes were high.
Hopefully next year Oliver will be able to watch a stress-free final event. But even if the pressure is on, there’s no doubt that Metraux is up to the challenge.