MILWAUKEE -- Gabby Curtis was in a league of her own Monday in the final round of the Badger Mutual Women's Amateur golf tournament.
And it earned the University of Wisconsin golfer another shot a league she'd like to join in the not-too-distant future.
Curtis fired 4-under-par 33 on the back nine at Brown Deer Park GC en route to a 5-under 68 and, at 6-under 140, a six-shot win over Xavier (Ohio) golfer Mikayla Smith of Appleton. The win earned Curtis an exemption in this week's PHC Classic, a Symetra Tour event that begins Friday at Brown Deer Park.
It will be Curtis' second start at the local stop on the LPGA's developmental tour. She earned a sponsor's exemption in 2015, shot 88 and fell victim to the Symetra Tour's "Rule 88" in which any golfer that shoots 88 or higher before the 36-hole cut is automatically withdrawn from the tournament.
"It means a lot," Curtis wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf of getting a second chance to measure herself against the game's rising stars as she enters her senior year at UW. "Especially for such a special opportunity to gain some experience with players that have taken their game go the next level."
Curtis took her game to the next level Monday in erasing a one-stroke deficit against first-round leader Taylor McCorkle of Oregon, a freshman-to-be at North Dakota State who struggled to a final-round 77 and finished fifth.
An eagle on the par-5 first hole was the first of two on the day for Curtis, but her only real highlight on a 1-under 35 on the front nine. A birdie-birdie start on the back nine set the stage for the fireworks that allowed her to start pulling away.
At No. 10, a 410-yard, par-5, she hit the green in two and two-putted from 30 feet. On No. 11, Curtis hit 8-iron on the 164-yard par 3 to 18 feet above the cup and made the downhill slider for birdie.
Her second eagle of the day was a lot like her first. Curtis reached the green on the 402-yard par-5 from about 200 yards out and made a 12-foot putt for eagle to get to 4-under.
"I felt pretty in control coming down the stretch and pulled hybrid or 3-wood (off the tee) for the last four holes to play to some strengths and good yardages," wrote Curtis, who parred four of her final five holes around a birdie at No. 17. "My putting was really solid and, with the greens rolling so nice, I could really take advantage of hitting greens."
And now Curtis gets to take advantage of the perk of winning one event at Brown Deer Park by playing in another on the Symetra Tour, which is where she hopes to be playing on a regular basis perhaps as early as this time next year.
"Going into this week I'm just planning on treating it like any other tournament and have some fun cause my mom's going to be on the bag," Curtis wrote. "I'm just super grateful for such a fun opportunity!"
Smith (73-73), Badgers junior Jessica Reinecke (72-75) and 2017 WSGA Hall of Famer Maggie Leef (74-74) and McCorkle (71-777) rounded out the top five. Defending champion Rebecca Klongland, another UW golfer, was sixth after her second straight 75.
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