Badger Mutual Bobbi Stricker

Badger Mutual Insurance Women's Amateur champion Bobbi Stricker hits a drive Tuesday during the tournament’s final round.

Five birdies. Two eagles. A double-bogey on the final hole to shoot 68 and, oh by the way, win one of the most prestigious women's golf tournaments on the Wisconsin summer amateur schedule for the third time in the last four years.

Five years ago, Bobbi Stricker dipped her toes in the competitive golf waters for the first time after a high school career devoted to tennis. It was the summer before earning a spot on the University of Wisconsin women's golf roster as a walk-on. There was no way back then that the Madison native could have imagined such a dynamic end to her participation in a golf tournament — any golf tournament, let alone one that has become as popular and competitive as the Badger Mutual Insurance Women's Amateur.

However, that was the blueprint for victory Tuesday at Brown Deer Park Golf Course in Milwaukee, where Stricker rallied past first-round leader Mandi Granato, a University of Nebraska-Omaha golfer from Plainfield, Ill. After watching a two-stroke deficit double to four shots just five holes into the final round, Stricker rattled off three birdies in a row to pull even with Granato, played the nine holes in the middle of her round in a mind-boggling 8-under-par and out-dueled Granato down the stretch, settling for a 5-under 68 after she double-bogeyed the final hole to close out her third victory in as many appearances in the 36-hole event. Granato finished two strokes behind Stricker after a closing-round 1-under 72.

"No, never!" Stricker wrote in a Twitter message when the picture painted above was offered up for her reflection. "If you were to tell me that I don't know if I could even imagine I could get to that point. I've let myself reflect recently on how I've progressed in the last years and it's been a sort of motivation as I start this next process of my golfing journey. I've just been really steady this summer and that has allowed me to sneak in those good rounds. (I) definitely still have things that need work, though."

Perhaps. But her ability to throw a 68 on the board despite two bogeys and that closing double shows how close Stricker's game is to being ready for her debut in the LPGA Tour Qualifying School next month in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Granato had a front-row seat to the way her playing partner bounced back from a sluggish start and flipped the script with her birdie run starting at No. 6, the same hole where Granato lipped out her birdie try. Looking back, however, Granato pointed to her three-putt bogey on No. 7 — where Stricker stuck her tee shot on the 174-yard par-3 to an inch — as the one hole that stung the most.

"I think those two holes she saw two putts fall and found a groove," Granato wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf after recovering from that misstep with three consecutive birdies of her own starting on No. 12 amid Stricker's sizzling start to the back nine where she made eagles at Nos. 10 and 13 and matched Granato's birdie at No. 14 after Granato chipped in for hers.

"Looking back on the round and pretty much every round, there’s always shots you want to have back no matter what you shoot. For me (Tuesday), I think the one shot I wish I could have back would be a birdie putt I had on (No.) 15. Bobbi had putt (lip) out for a bogey and the door was open for me to cut her lead down to one. That was a putt I knew I needed so I gave it a run and, unfortunately, ended up with a three-putt bogey."

Still, it took an epic punch shot through the trees with a 7-iron after pushing her drive on No. 8 — "(It) might have been the shot of my life," wrote Stricker, who ran it up to 10 feet and made the birdie putt — to finally catch Granato. She knew it was going to take great focus down the stretch to put her away.

"She is such a great player," Stricker wrote of Granato, whose family tree of hockey success — her father, Rob, played college hockey at Colorado College and UW while her uncle, Tony, is currently the Badgers' coach — is clearly the 15th club in her bag. "(And) maybe some of the best ball-striking that I've seen from a college player in my college years. She definitely wasn't going to back down."

Granato added: "I think it turned into a little bit match play when we were tied going into the back nine, but then she made the eagle (on No. 10) and I had a par and was chasing the rest of the way in."

Indeed, after both golfers parred No. 16, Stricker birdied No. 17 to give herself a three-stroke cushion going to the 18th tee. Her double-bogey on the final hole, Stricker wrote, is symptomatic of struggles she had in the second round of tournaments as witnessed by her 66-74 showing at the recent Wisconsin State Women's Amateur, where she edged former Badgers teammate Emily Lauterbach of Hartland with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

"I feel like I was finally comfortable when I made the birdie on (No.) 17," Stricker wrote. "I could go down 18 with a 3 shot lead ... and I ended up needing it. There were a few times where I 'tried' to get comfortable, but Mandi kept hitting great shots."

In the end, both golfers were all the better for the experience.

"This was my last tournament of the summer," wrote Granato, whose junior season will begin Sept. 13 at the Jackrabbit Invitaitional in Brookings, S.D. "I have some momentum with my game right now, but there’s still some more things I would like to sharpen up before the college season gets going in full force. This entire summer has been great with gaining experience and I’m for sure going to carry all that I have learned over the past few months with me into the year."

Stricker's timeline for what's next is a bit more accelerated. The 72-hole first stage of LPGA Tour Q-School begins Aug. 19 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage with the opportunity to secure, at worst, conditional status on the developmental Symetra Tour for those completing 54 holes.

"In terms of Q-school and the opportunity there, I continue to learn a lot about myself and how I handle those pressure situations," Stricker wrote. "(This week) also highlights areas that I need to work on in my game, like my driver and my bunker play. ... (But) it's a dream to try and compete there and it's becoming a reality."

Championship flight

1Bobbi Stricker-8F-57068138 
2Mandi Granato-6F-16872140 
3Mackenzie Hahn-3F-27271143 
4Mia Seeman-2FE7173144 
5Taitum Beck+1F-37770147 
6Isabelle Maleki+2F-17672148 
T7Ashley Kulka+4F+17674150 
T7Markie Ash+4F+57278150 
T9Grace Suter+5F+27675151 
T9Amy Kucera+5F+17774151 
11Maggie Leef+8F+18074154 
12Katelynn Warpinski+10F-18472156 
T13Olivia Patrow+11F+48077157 
T13Jolie Guyette+11F+48077157 
15Rachel Kauflin+12F+77880158 
16Isabella Dory+14F+68179160 
17Grace Welch+15F+48477161 
T18Samantha Mantyla+16F+28775162 
T18Sydney Brown+16F+78280162 
T20Susan Lee Kolbe+19F+88481165 
T20Jessica Loera+19F+78580165 
T22Sydney Brandt+21F+118384167 
T22Amy Gehrke+21F+167889167 
24Ellie Behring+22F+148187168 
25Katie Falk+36F+169389182 
26Haley Myers+37F+159588183

First flight

1Jill Trider+16F+78179160 
2Kaitlin Gannett+17F+78279161 
3Anne Schlageter+18F+108082162 
4Amy Moritz+22F+118383166 
5Karen L Schmid+25F+138485169 
6Peg Carlson+26F+128684170 
7Madeline Kiley+30F+198391174 
8Carol Koopman+34F+159187178 
9Dawn Thiel+38F+159587182 
T10Lina Cicero+39F+219093183 
T10Katie Gerschke+39F+219093183 
T10Darcy Hinz+39F+209192183 
13Sandra Nass+45F+219693189

Second flight

T1Sue Wassenberg+32F+178789176 
T1Rita Cooney+32F+158987176 
3Mary Moase+35F+129584179 
T4Lynn Raml+37F+179289181 
T4Sarah Elliot+37F+149586181 
6Teckla Kubiak+41F+199491185 
7Kristin Smith+43F+229394187 
T8Jeanmarie Wagner-Richmond  +46F+239595190 
T8Mary Beth Buechel+46F+229694190 
T10Anita Thakur+48F+229894192 
T10Cindy Housour+48F+259597192 
12Sarah Weinrich+49F+279499193 
13Julie O'Connor+51F+2895100195 
14Geri Petersen+53F+2310295197

Third flight

1Jeanne Whitish+39F+209192183 
2Judy Beattie+40F+199391184 
3Connie Hillmann+45F+1310485189 
T4Jayne Swick+47F+269398191 
T4Linda Sierzchulski+47F+249596191 
T4Jody Silverberg+47F+249596191 
T4Wendy Proctor+47F+1710289191 
8Karen Gazzana+49F+2110093193 
9Sungeun Jang+51F+269798195 
10Joan Taschner+57F+3198103201 
11Marie Thierfelder+60F *+2610698204 
12Angie Brindowski+64F *+29107101208 
13Kate Moody+72F *+34110106216

Fourth flight

T1Peggy Mead+53F *+3194103197 
T1Barbara Hussin+53F *+3095102197 
T1Jean Ziller+53F+279899197 
4Anne Sprecher+56F+2710199200 
T5Holly Haskin+57F+3297104201 
T5Charlene Lynch+57F+2610398201 
T7Christine Mortensen+60F *+3696108204 
T7Judy Tallmadge+60F+29103101204 
T7Judith Gerschwiler+60F+2510797204 
10D.J. McFarlane+64F+28108100208 
11Patty Townsend+65F *+4097112209 
12Sako Duellman+70F+2511797214 
13Judy Shirley+72F+37107109216 
14Nancy Tolocko+74F+39107111218

Fifth flight

T1Ann Devine+61F+3598107205 
T1Jennifer McLaughlin+61F+32101104205 
3Dinah Polzin+66F+36102108210 
T4Chris Von Paumgartten+69F+34107106213 
T4Karen Schmid+69F+29112101213 
6Gretchen Styles+73F+39106111217 
7Cici Yun+75F+36111108219 
8Diane Byrne+76F+37111109220 
T9Dale Schneider+82F+45109117226 
T9Claudia Standorf+82F+37117109226 
11Marilyn Glowacki+94F+44122116238 
12Patti Clark+99F+44127116243 

Fifth flight

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