MADISON – Taitum Beck of Waterford didn’t know where she stood, and didn’t want to know, coming down the stretch Tuesday in the final round of the Wisconsin Women’s State Amateur.
Experience and intuition, though, told her that the 8-foot birdie putt she faced on the 16th hole at Blackhawk Country Club was important.
“I knew I needed it, for sure,” she said.
When Beck buried the putt, she celebrated with a demonstrative fist pump. Unbeknownst to the senior-to-be at Weber State, she had just broken a three-way tie at the top of the leader board, and she held on to win the biggest title of her career.
“Yes, by far,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s surreal.”
Beck shot a 1-over 73 and finished the 36-hole tournament at 3-over 147, one stroke ahead of Mallory Swartz of Franklin, who will be a freshman at Bowling Green, and two ahead of Taylor McCorkle of Oregon, a senior-to-be at North Dakota State.
It had been a long time since Beck won anything of note. In 38 career Wisconsin PGA Junior points events between 2011 and 2017, she never finished higher than second. As a junior at Weber State, her best finish was a tie for 14th at the Rose City Collegiate.
Asked to name her second-biggest accomplishment in golf, Beck thought for a few seconds and said, “Man … when I was a senior in high school, I won quite a few tournaments that year. Since then, college is a different ballgame. When you get in the bigger pond … it’s just been a grind.”
Maggie Leef of Pewaukee, a member of the Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame, has been paired with Beck a few times in tournaments and played with her again Tuesday in the penultimate threesome. Leef noted how much Beck has improved in recent years.
“Her game has come along nicely,” Leef said. “She was solid today. She made some great up-and-downs. She made some clutch putts. She was steady and composed and pleasant to play with. It’s fun to watch how much she has improved, particularly the last two years.”
Swartz shot an even-par 72 and finished at 148 and McCorkle, playing on her home course, shot a 75 and finished at 149. Leef was another shot back at 150 after a 76 and first-round leader Rachel Kauflin of Wauwatosa shot a 79 to finish in a fifth-place tie with Ellie Frisch of Middleton.
The finish was not without considerable drama as Swartz, McCorkle and Leef all had chances to win coming down the stretch. In fact, it appeared at one point late in the round that a multi-player playoff was a distinct possibility, especially after Beck followed her birdie on No. 16 with a bogey on the par-4 17th.
Swartz would have forced extra holes with Beck if not for a three-putt bogey on the par-3 finishing hole.
“My tee shot was fine,” she said. “But I was about 30 feet above the hole and the putt was very fast. I just didn’t judge the speed, and I left myself about nine feet coming back.”
McCorkle, who shared the lead for much of the round, effectively ended her chances with a double-bogey on No. 17. She would have needed to ace the 18th hole to force a playoff.
Leef was one stroke off the lead with three holes to play but made a costly double-bogey on the 16th, missing the green right, leaving a pitch short of the putting surface and then leaving her ensuing chip some 10 feet short of the hole.
“I was between clubs and I stood up on the tee shot,” she said. “I blocked it right into the flower bed. Then I gave too much credit to the lake effect, everything running to (Lake Mendota), and compounded my mistake.”
Frisch, who will be a junior at Middleton High School, came out firing with birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 around a bogey on No. 3. But she cooled off on the back nine, playing the final seven holes in 5-over to fall out of contention. She shot a 74.
Kauflin, a Central Michigan recruit and the two-time reigning WPGA Junior Player of the Year, opened with a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 first hole after blading a bunker shot over the green. Even though she chipped in for birdie on the next hole, she fought her swing on the front nine and finished with a 79.
“I only had to hit one bunker shot yesterday and I hit that one well,” said Kauflin, who opened with a 72 and started the day with a one-shot lead. “There just wasn’t a lot of sand in the bunker and I just didn’t fully commit to the shot and the next thing you know, I make triple. What are you going to do?
“This is the biggest tournament I’ve had the lead in my career so far. It was definitely a learning experience. I obviously didn’t have my best golf today. I just kind of found myself a little bit out of position. I didn’t hit a lot of greens. But I finished strong. I played my last three holes 1-under, so I’m proud of battling and staying in the fight.”
Beck hit driver all the way around Blackhawk, a picturesque but hilly course known for its tree-lined holes, sloping fairways and smallish greens. She grew up playing tree-lined Rivermoor Country Club in Waterford but has gotten used to an entirely different kind of golf in the mountains of Utah. Blackhawk is basically 5,754 yards of claustrophobia.
“It’ a great golf course,” she said. “I grew up on a very tight golf course, so I’m kind of used to that, but coming back from Utah it’s been an adjustment, for sure. I hit a good amount of fairways. I hit driver pretty much all day.”
Beck played a solid front nine, offsetting a bogey on No. 1 with a birdie on No. 4 to make the turn in 36. She double-bogeyed the 12th, the first of back-to-back par-5s, but bounced back immediately with a birdie on the 13th. She then made the clutch birdie on No. 16 before her final bogey.
“I was scrambling really well around the golf course,” she said. “I got up and down quite a few times and made some putts I needed to make. I tried to play smart golf. I didn’t know where I stood. I want to play offensive golf and put my foot on the gas pedal and keep it going. One shot at a time.”
Beck said she couldn’t wait to talk to her mentor, 86-year-old Joyce Malison, who won six times on the LPGA tour including the 1960 Western Open and has been a fixture at Rivermoor for 70 years.
“Joyce is amazing,” Beck said. “She’s so supportive. I hope to see her, hopefully tomorrow. She just saw (something) in me and said, ‘Go work hard and keep after it.’ She’s so, so supportive.”
After spending the last few years trying to find the winner’s circle, Beck did it in Wisconsin’s most prestigious amateur tournament.
“This is surreal,” she said. “It means everything to me. It’s huge to know you can win playing with the best. It’s amazing.”
|1||Taitum Beck Waterford, WI||+3||F||+1||74||73||147|
|2||Mallory Swartz Franklin, WI||+4||F||E||76||72||148|
|3||-||Taylor McCorkle Oregon, WI||+5||F||+3||74||75||149|
|4||Maggie Leef Pewaukee, WI||+6||F||+4||74||76||150|
|T5||Ellie Frisch Middleton, WI||+7||F||+2||77||74||151|
|T5||Rachel Kauflin Wauwatosa, WI||+7||F||+7||72||79||151|
|T7||Elise Hoven Grafton, WI||+8||F||+4||76||76||152|
|T7||Courtney Matschke Franklin, WI||+8||F||+3||77||75||152|
|T9||Alexis Thomas Middleton, WI||+10||F||+6||76||78||154|
|T9||Ashli Stolen Stoughton, WI||+10||F||+7||75||79||154|
|T9||Kate Meier Middleton, WI||+10||F||+7||75||79||154|
|T12||Isabelle Maleki Mequon, WI||+11||F||+1||82||73||155|
|T12||Amy Kucera Fontana, WI||+11||F||+8||75||80||155|
|T12||Caylie Kotlowski Stoughton, WI||+11||F||+10||73||82||155|
|15||Isabella Dory Menomonee Falls, WI||+12||F||+1||83||73||156|
|16||Jo Baranczyk Green Bay, WI||+13||F||+5||80||77||157|
|T17||Jessica Rudnicki Sun Prairie, WI||+14||F||+4||82||76||158|
|T17||Bobbi Stricker Madison, WI||+14||F||+7||79||79||158|
|T17||-||Payton Hodson Middleton, WI||+14||F||+8||78||80||158|
|T17||Grace Suter Oconomowoc, WI||+14||F||+11||75||83||158|
|T21||Jessie Gulden Middleton, WI||+15||F||+8||79||80||159|
|T21||Ava Salay River Falls, WI||+15||F||+9||78||81||159|
|T21||Skye Skenandore De Pere, WI||+15||F||+11||76||83||159|
|T21||Sydney Rae Brandt Brookfield, WI||+15||F||+12||75||84||159|
|25||Julie Schroeder Oregon, WI||+16||F||+7||81||79||160|
|T26||Lorenza Martinez Menomonee Falls, WI||+17||F||+10||79||82||161|
|T26||Gabby Tremblay Hayward, WI||+17||F||+10||79||82||161|
|28||Ashley Kulka Beaver Dam, WI||+18||F||+11||79||83||162|
|T29||Sami Forster Wauwatosa, WI||+21||F||+7||86||79||165|
|T29||Syd Wells Menominee, MI||+21||F||+10||83||82||165|
|T29||Sydney Steinmetz Oshkosh, WI||+21||F||+10||83||82||165|
|T29||-||Grace Welch Madison, WI||+21||F||+11||82||83||165|
|T29||Myranda Kotlowski Stoughton, WI||+21||F||+14||79||86||165|
|T34||Glenna Sanderson Middleton, WI||+24||F||+13||83||85||168|
|T34||Sadie Kelley Green Bay, WI||+24||F||+15||81||87||168|
|36||Lauren Peterson Hartland, WI||+25||F||+16||81||88||169|
|37||Amanda Karvala New Berlin, WI||+28||F||+16||84||88||172|
|38||-||Jolie Guyette De Pere, WI||+29||F||+14||87||86||173|
|39||Courtney Shorter Fitchburg, WI||+30||F||+13||89||85||174|
|40||Alyssa Schmidt Oregon, WI||+31||F||+16||87||88||175|
|41||Madeline Fiebig Waukesha, WI||+32||F||+17||87||89||176|
|42||Treva Dodd Brookfield, WI||+39||F||+17||94||89||183|
|43||Kirsten Leonardi Sussex, WI||+49||F||+31||90||103||193|
|44||-||Kimberly Dodd Brookfield, WI||+51||F||+28||95||100||195|
|45||-||Presley Cornelius Green Bay, WI||+54||F||+27||99||99||198|
|Andrea Schleeper Fitchburg, WI||+10||F||+4||78||76||154|
|Pat Roisum Deerfield, WI||+12||F||+7||77||79||156|
|Sophia Dooman Janesville, WI||+16||F||+8||80||80||160|
|McKenna Nelson Beaver Dam, WI||+17||F||+10||79||82||161|
|Carrie Sperling Madison, WI||+19||F||+5||86||77||163|
|Katelyn Baribeau Cameron, WI||+21||F||+14||79||86||165|
|Amy Gehrke Muskego, WI||+22||F||+10||84||82||166|
|Madison Bowers Mineral Point, WI||+22||F||+13||81||85||166|
|Maggie Warrner Lakewood, WI||+25||F||+13||84||85||169|
|Karen Schmid Waukesha, WI||+30||F||+13||89||85||174|
|Payton Dube Hancock, MI||+31||F||+22||81||94||175|
|Jill Trider Green Bay, WI||+31||F||+19||84||91||175|
|Katie Falk Milwaukee, WI||+36||F||+23||85||95||180|
|Haley Myers Somerset, WI||+42||F||+25||89||97||186|
|15||-||Ashley Krieski Reedsburg, WI||+48||F||+24||96||96||192|
|1||-||Lillian Knetter Madison, WI||+9||F||+4||77||76||153|
|2||-||Peg Carlson Madison, WI||+18||F||+11||79||83||162|
|3||Sydney Grimm Waunakee, WI||+22||F||+8||86||80||166|
|4||Ann Bonner Platteville, WI||+25||F||+13||84||85||169|
|5||Deb Toll Appleton, WI||+26||F||+14||84||86||170|
|6||Katie Culver Green Lake, WI||+27||F||+15||84||87||171|
|7||Anna Krieski Reedsburg, WI||+30||F||+13||89||85||174|
|8||Darcy Hinz Brookfield, WI||+33||F||+21||84||93||177|
|9||Vivian Cressman Middleton, WI||+34||F||+16||90||88||178|
|10||Bridget McCarthy Verona, WI||+36||F||+19||89||91||180|
|11||-||Sandy Nass Elkhorn, WI||+41||F||+22||91||94||185|
|12||-||Eleanor Potter Mequon, WI||+46||F||+17||101||89||190|
|1||Grace Warrner Lakewood, WI||+22||F||+7||87||79||166|
|2||Susan Crowson Madison, WI||+27||F||+18||81||90||171|
|3||Rita Cooney Colgate, WI||+32||F||+21||83||93||176|
|4||Susan Schellinger Milwaukee, WI||+41||F||+23||90||95||185|
|T5||MaryBeth Buechel Wauwatosa, WI||+43||F||+23||92||95||187|
|T5||Jill Doucette Cottage Grove, WI||+43||F||+23||92||95||187|
|T5||Bela Dodd Brookfield, WI||+43||F||+30||85||102||187|
|T8||Carla Hellerman Oconomowoc, WI||+46||F||+21||97||93||190|
|T8||Jeanne Whitish Waunakee, WI||+46||F||+26||92||98||190|
|T8||Dawn Thiel Appleton, WI||+46||F||+24||94||96||190|
|11||-||Pat Kraft Hartland, WI||+66||F||+38||100||110||210|
|12||-||Mary Beth Specht Prairie Du Chien, WI||+69||F||+33||108||105||213|
|T1||Wendy Proctor Brookfield, WI||+48||F||+22||98||94||192|
|T1||-||Paula Garcia Oconomowoc, WI||+48||F||+26||94||98||192|
|3||Kathy Algiers Appleton, WI||+50||F||+25||97||97||194|
|T4||Connie Hillmann Germantown, WI||+54||F||+22||104||94||198|
|T4||Jane Kohl Waukesha, WI||+54||F||+22||104||94||198|
|6||Meng Xie Clayton Oregon, WI||+56||F||+25||103||97||200|
|7||Rosalind Gusinow Madison, WI||+60||F||+35||97||107||204|
|8||Mary Griebl Hartford, WI||+61||F||+30||103||102||205|
|9||-||Gretchen Styles Wauwatosa, WI||+72||F||+39||105||111||216|
|10||Lisa Peterson Prairie du Chien, WI||+74||F||+34||112||106||218|
|11||Patti Ohme Appleton, WI||+76||F||+38||110||110||220|
|12||-||Micki Hill Madison, WI||+78||F||+35||115||107||222|