In addition to being the most talented golfer in her Class of 2019 in Wisconsin, Emily Lauterbach has also proven to be one of the most passionate golfers among this year’s seniors.
The University of Wisconsin recruit from Hartland Arrowhead showed how much the game and her performance means to her this fall when Lauterbach won every tournament she played during her senior season except one. The last one. The big one. And she knew it.
“I’ve won every single meet and, then, the one that mattered just kind of slips away,” Lauterbach told reporters after the final round of her final WIAA Division 1 state tournament at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison after Bay Port’s Jo Baranczyk played her final nine holes in 4-under-par, birdieing her final hole to edge the 2016 state champion by a single shot. She and Baranczyk became the first golfers to break par for 36 holes in the same state tournament.
It was a painful blip in a junior golf career that made Lauterbach perhaps the most promising collegiate golfer to come out of Wisconsin since four-time WIAA Division 2 state champion Casey Danielson of Osceola left for Stanford in 2013.
In maintaining her hold on the No. 1 spot in the Wisconsin.Golf Class of 2019 rankings for the third year in a row, Lauterbach continued to combine power off the tee with a deft touch on and around the green to become a golfer capable of making birdies in bunches, as she showed during that final round of the state tournament. Lauterbach birdied three of her first five holes and led Baranczyk by four shots at one point, finishing the 36-hole event with nine birdies and.
A popular golfer who developed strong friendships with other top golfers in classes around her, Lauterbach has shown great comfort in being the so-called hunted over the last three years.
Since winning the WIAA state title as a sophomore, Lauterbach has won just two WPGA Junior points events — the 2018 AJGA WinCraft/MacArthur Towel & Sports Future Legends event at The Legend at Brandybrook in Waukesha and 2018 WPGA Junior Bestball Championship at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan where she teamed with Baranczyk to shoot 3-under 69 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout in a power pairing that won the event by five shots.
However, in 13 stroke-play rounds over the past two years, she broke 80 in 12 of them. In 10 18-hole events this fall at Arrowhead, Lauterbach shot 72 or better in eight of them — including a low of 65 on Day 1 of the Brookfield Central/Mequon Homestead Invite with a 70.4 average.
The balance of this year’s graduating class is one of the most eclectic in recent memory.
No. 2 Gabby Tremblay of Hayward returns to the ranking after coming in at No. 7 in 2016. She transferred to Shattuck St. Mary’s, a comprehensive boarding school in Fairbault, Minnesota, after helping the Hurricanes finish third at the 2016 WIAA Division 2 state tournament and took advantage of the school’s golf program to earn a Division I scholarship to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Most of Tremblay’s resume has been built on the Minnesota PGA Junior Tour and in Hurricane Junior Golf Tour and Future Collegians World Tour events through Shattuck’s golf program, most recently shooting 72-81 and placing third at a FCWT event in Phoenix.
Drake-bound Lexi Meade of Eau Claire Memorial and New Richmond’s Maggie Veenendall, who is headed to NCAA Division II Sioux Falls (S.D.) share the No. 3 ranking in the latest update. They dueled throughout the WIAA postseason, with Meade winning head-to-head battles at the regional and sectional level before Veenendall gained the upper hand at the state tournament.
No. 5 Clair Phakamad of Appleton Xavier debuts in the rankings after returning to the WIAA scene this fall and winning the Division 2 state championship. The UW-Green Bay recruit was classified an exchange student at Xavier two years ago when she qualified for state as a sophomore, but was forced to withdraw in the first round due to an illness. She returned to Xavier as a junior as an international student, but was forced to sit out due to WIAA transfer rules. After successfully appealing for a WIAA waiver to compete as a 19-year-old senior, Phakamad enjoyed a steady season, placing second to sophomore teammate Lauren Haen in the Bay Conference and WIAA Division 2 regional before sharing medalist honors at the WIAA Xavier sectional with Luxemburg-Casco’s Katie Glander. Phakamad then shooting 78-74 to win the Division 2 state championship by two shots over Annie Balduzzi of La Crosse Aquinas, a University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) recruit who is No. 6 in the Wisconsin.Golf rankings.
In setting such a high bar for this class, Lauterbach should join the rest of us in seeing the impact the Class of 2019 has on the college ranks. Only nine golfers among the 50 in the rankings update have announced college plans and at least two dozen others have shown potential to make an impact at the next level — especially in the NCAA Division III Wisconsin Intercollegiate Conference, which has reaped the benefits of a deeper pool of junior golfers.
Until 2017, no school had ever shot 960 at the 54-hole WIAC Championship. UW-Whitewater and UW-Stout did so that year and this fall, UW-Oshkosh (960), joined the Warhawks (942) and Blue Devils (954) in continuing to raise the scoring bar in the WIAC where, individually, the top-25 line has improved 20 strokes in the last four years (from 277 in 2015 to 257 in 2018).