Becky Klongland signed off last week on her third straight victory in the Wisconsin Women's State Amateur with a wish for her next start: That she play well at the Brown Deer Women's Amateur Tournament.
"I feel pretty good about where my game is," the University of Wisconsin golfer from Stoughton said as she made her way home last week from Menominee, Michigan, and looked ahead to her annual visit to Brown Deer Park GC in Milwaukee. "This might finally be my year to conquer that course and actually play well there."
Historically, the Brown Deer Women's Am has not produced her best golf. A year ago, for example, Klongland shot a pair of 77s at the PGA Tour Greater Milwaukee Open's former home and finished a distant third, 10 shots behind Badgers teammate Brooke Ferrell.
Things changed Monday. In a big way.
Klongland shot a career-best 6-under-par 67 with the aid of two eagles and reversed roles with Ferrell, taking a four-stroke lead on the UW senior-to-be entering Tuesday's final round of the 17th annual event sponsored by Badger Mutual Insurance company, which this year will benefit the Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee.
"I don't know where that came from," said Klongland, who eagled the first hole and made eight straight pars before making her second eagle on No. 10. "I eagled that first hole and then hit the next eight greens (in regulation) and two-putted all of them. I kept giving myself chances and eventually they have to drop."
Syd Wells, the 2015 WSGA women's amateur golfer of the year, bounced back from a tough showing at last week's Wisconsin Women's State Am with a 75 and was alone in third. WWSGA State Match Play champion Mikayla Smith, a Xavier (Ohio) golfer from Appleton, and Creighton golfer Caroline Lake of Madison were tied for fourth with 76s.
But Klongland and Ferrell served notice on the very first hole Monday that this might be a two-player race. Klongland chipped in for eagle on the par-5 first hole and Ferrell made a 20-foot putt to match her.
"We both walk off (the green) and we're like 'Wow, we're both 2-under after one; here we go!'" Ferrell said in a telephone interview.
They weren't done with their eagle-fest quite yet. Ferrell holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker on the par-5 fourth hole and then picked up a birdie on the par-3 seventh to take a three-shot lead on Klongland, who parred the remaining eight holes on the front nine and trailed by one at the turn after Ferrell bogeyed Nos. 8 and 9.
The dueling Badgers were back to even after No. 10 when Klongland hit a fairway wood to 6 feet on her second shot and made the eagle putt while Ferrell birdied the hole. That was last birdie of the day for Ferrell, who fell two behind after she bogeyed No. 12 and Klongland birdied No. 13. A birdie-birdie finish for Klongland following her lone bogey at No. 16 accounted for the four-shot lead on Ferrell.
"I was disappointed in my golf game today," Ferrell said. "You hate to be the kid who walks in and shoots 2-under and is like 'Oh, I didn't play very well.' But that's kind of the way it is now, I guess. It's weird, I guess, as I've gotten older the expectations, the pressure has changed. I walked off today shooting 2-under and I said, 'I left so many strokes out there; I'm disappointed.'"
Klongland, on the other hand, couldn't have been more thrilled at her breakthrough round.
It bettered by one stroke her previous best, which came in the final round of the 2016 Big Ten Conference Championship. And it gave her the blueprint with which she hopes to protect her lead against Ferrell, who believes she can post a low score on the 5,800-yard layout.
"Those round sare the ones where you just don't make many mistakes," Klongland said. "If you hit a bad shot, you get over it really fast. You figure out what went wrong and go on. That's what I was really trying to do (Monday).
"I'm going to try and take the same approach (Tuesday). I mean, it's a new day and, the way I played (Monday), I'm going to try and not let that influence (Tuesday) too much. I'm going to go out there with the same game plan -- (hit) fairways and greens -- and try to give myself some chances."
|T20||Susan Lee Kolbe||+12||F||+12||85||85|
|T31||Tammy St John||+17||F||+17||89||89|
|T54||Sue St John||+26||F||+26||98||98|
|80||Mary Beth Siaggas||+40||F||+40||112||112|