Rachel Kauflin | 2020 women's am

Rachel Kauflin of Wauwatosa is the leader by one stroke after the first round Monday of the Women’s Amateur Championship

Blackhawk Country Club in Madison always seems to bring out the best in Rachel Kauflin, no matter how she has been playing before she gets there.

Monday was no exception.

The Central Michigan recruit from Wauwatosa made three straight birdies for the first time in her career and, despite back-to-back bogeys to close, shot an even-par 72 to take a one-stroke lead over Caylie Kotlowski, a rising senior at Stoughton High School, after one round of the Wisconsin Women's State Amateur Championship. Oregon's Taylor McCorkle, a senior-to-be at North Dakota State, shot 74 on her home course and joined Weber State's Taitum Beck of Waterford and Pewaukee veteran Maggie Lee in a tie for third place.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place in Dane County requiring single-rider carts, the traditional 36-hole opener for golfers in the championship flight was reduced to 18 holes, turning the competition into a 36-hole event for golfers in all four flights. The final round will begin at 7:45 a.m. with the leaders in the championship flight scheduled to tee off just before 3 p.m.

Kauflin sitting atop a leaderboard at Blackhawk CC is nothing new. She is the two-time defending champion of the Sherri Steinhauer Invitational, a girls-only Wisconsin PGA Junior event named for the former LPGA Tour star in which the opening round is played at Blackhawk CC and the final round at Pleasant View Golf Course in Middleton.

"I haven't been playing my best throughout the beginning of the summer," Kauflin said in a Zoom interview with Wisconsin.Golf, mindful that her 2020 resume hasn't been up to expectations for the two-time reigning WPGA Junior Player of the Year outside of her WPGA Junior Tour victory last week on the Irish Course at Whistling Straits. "But I knew from past experience that Blackhawk was a course that suited my game very well. It's a course that is very tight and, because of that, there are a lot of holes where the college players who hit it really far, that length (advantage) is kind of eliminated."

Indeed, the key to scoring at Blackhawk CC is keeping it between the tree-lined fairways and resisting the temptation to pull out the driver on the four short par-4s that measure less than 300 yards, where the risk to try to drive it near the green is mitigated by fast, firm fairways that bring the trees into play.

Kauflin took those cautions to heart to make her move after coming to the par-4 eighth hole at even-par following a birdie at No. 2 and a bogey at No. 6. She had the same club on her approach shots at Nos. 8 and 9, leading to the first of her three straight birdies that got her to 3-under. A double-bogey 7 at No. 12 preceded her fifth birdie of the day at No. 14 before those consecutive bogeys to end her round brought her back to the field.

"You talk about the run of birdies I got on, I got into a groove where on Nos. 8 and 9 I think I had 7-irons into both of them," Kauflin said. "I hit really good shots on both of them and hit nice putts that found their way into the hole. It was just really fun to see some of the work I've been doing ... pay off."

Likewise, Kotlowski went on a run similar to Kauflin in the middle of her round. 

After making the turn in 4-over 40, Kotlowski bogeyed No. 10 to drop to 5-over. She said she started paying closer attention to the greens book she purchased in the pro shop and suddenly caught fire with the putter.

Caylie Kotlowski | 2020 women's am

Caylie Kotlowski is one stroke off the lead after the opening round Monday of the Women’s Amateur Championship. Kotlowski, from Stoughton, is alone in second place.

Kotlowski, who seldom sees a hole that doesn't fit her driver, pulled her tee shot on the 265-yard 11th hole into the trees, punched onto the right side of the green and made a 30-foot putt for the first of three consecutive birdies and four over her next five holes. On the par-5 12th, she hit an 8-iron onto the front edge of a green and then knocked in a 40-footer up the hill for birdie.

"I started reading the greens better," Kotlowski said. "I just felt good with the putter. On the front nine, my putting kept me in the game. I had a fair number of one-putts on the front nine and they started dropping (for birdie) on the back."

Meanwhile, others who threatened the top of the leaderboard at various points during the Monday's opening dropped back. 

McCorkle, who birdied No. 1 and bogeyed No. 8 to turn in even-par 36, birdied No. 11 to get to 1-under before a triple-bogey 8 on No. 12 knocked her back. A triple-bogey 7 at No. 6 slowed Beck's climb up the leaderboard after a birdie at No. 3 and four pars had her at 1-under, but she rallied with birdies at Nos. 14 and 15 and played her final eight holes in 2-under.

With 15 golfers within five shots of her, Kauflin knows there will be a lot of threats to her lead over the final 18 holes.

"It's a very challenging venue; it's a very fitting place to have this tournament," Kauflin said. "It's very tight in spots. The greens are very tricky at times. So it does present a very firm challenge. But, as we saw (Monday), if you're hitting the ball well, it also gives you the opportunity to go low at times. I think, for me, it'll just be important for me to bear down and focus on continuing to keep the ball in play and try to avoid the big numbers."

Championship flight

1Rachel Kauflin  Wauwatosa, WIEFE72 72 
2Caylie Kotlowski  Stoughton, WI+1F+173 73 
T3Taylor McCorkle  Oregon, WI+2F+274 74 
T3Taitum Beck  Waterford, WI+2F+274 74 
T3Maggie Leef  Pewaukee, WI+2F+274 74 
T6Amy Kucera  Fontana, WI+3F+375 75 
T6Grace Suter  Oconomowoc, WI+3F+375 75 
T6Ashli Stolen  Stoughton, WI+3F+375 75 
T6Kate Meier  Middleton, WI+3F+375 75 
T6Sydney Rae Brandt  Brookfield, WI+3F+375 75 
T11Mallory Swartz  Franklin, WI+4F+476 76 
T11Alexis Thomas  Middleton, WI+4F+476 76 
T11Elise Hoven  Grafton, WI+4F+476 76 
T11Skye Skenandore  De Pere, WI+4F+476 76 
T15Courtney Matschke  Franklin, WI+5F+577 77 
T15Ellie Frisch  Middleton, WI+5F+577 77 
T17Payton Hodson  Middleton, WI+6F+678 78 
T17Ava Salay  River Falls, WI+6F+678 78 
T19Gabby Tremblay  Hayward, WI+7F+779 79 
T19Ashley Kulka  Beaver Dam, WI+7F+779 79 
T19Jessie Gulden  Middleton, WI+7F+779 79 
T19Bobbi Stricker  Madison, WI+7F+779 79 
T19Lorenza Martinez  Menomonee Falls, WI+7F+779 79 
T19Myranda Kotlowski  Stoughton, WI+7F+779 79 
25Jo Baranczyk  Green Bay, WI+8F+880 80 
T26Sadie Kelley  Green Bay, WI+9F+981 81 
T26Lauren Peterson  Hartland, WI+9F+981 81 
T26Julie Schroeder  Oregon, WI+9F+981 81 
T29Isabelle Maleki  Mequon, WI+10F+1082 82 
T29Jessica Rudnicki  Sun Prairie, WI+10F+1082 82 
T29Grace Welch  Madison, WI+10F+1082 82 
T32Isabella Dory  Menomonee Falls, WI+11F+1183 83 
T32Glenna Sanderson  Middleton, WI+11F+1183 83 
T32Syd Wells  Menominee, MI+11F+1183 83 
T32Sydney Steinmetz  Oshkosh, WI+11F+1183 83 
36Amanda Karvala  New Berlin, WI+12F+1284 84 
37Sami Forster  Wauwatosa, WI+14F+1486 86 
T38Madeline Fiebig  Waukesha, WI+15F+1587 87 
T38Jolie Guyette  De Pere, WI+15F+1587 87 
T38Alyssa Schmidt  Oregon, WI+15F+1587 87 
41Courtney Shorter  Fitchburg, WI+17F+1789 89 
42Kirsten Leonardi  Sussex, WI+18F+1890 90 
43Treva Dodd  Brookfield, WI+22F+2294 94 
44Kimberly Dodd  Brookfield, WI+23F+2395 95 
45Presley Cornelius  Green Bay, WI+27F+2799 99 

First flight

1Pat Roisum  Deerfield, WI+5F+577 77 
2Andrea Schleeper  Fitchburg, WI+6F+678 78 
T3Katelyn Baribeau  Cameron, WI+7F+779 79 
T3McKenna Nelson  Beaver Dam, WI+7F+779 79 
5Sophia Dooman  Janesville, WI+8F+880 80 
T6Madison Bowers  Mineral Point, WI+9F+981 81 
T6Payton Dube  Hancock, MI+9F+981 81 
T8Amy Gehrke  Muskego, WI+12F+1284 84 
T8Jill Trider  Green Bay, WI+12F+1284 84 
T8Maggie Warrner  Lakewood, WI+12F+1284 84 
11Katie Falk  Milwaukee, WI+13F+1385 85 
12Carrie Sperling  Madison, WI+14F+1486 86 
T13Karen Schmid  Waukesha, WI+17F+1789 89 
T13Haley Myers  Somerset, WI+17F+1789 89 
15Ashley Krieski  Reedsburg, WI+24F+2496 96 

Second flight

1Lillian Knetter  Madison, WI+5F+577 77 
2Peg Carlson  Madison, WI+7F+779 79 
T3Katie Culver  Green Lake, WI+12F+1284 84 
T3Ann Bonner  Platteville, WI+12F+1284 84 
T3Deb Toll  Appleton, WI+12F+1284 84 
T3Darcy Hinz  Brookfield, WI+12F+1284 84 
7Sydney Grimm  Waunakee, WI+14F+1486 86 
T8Anna Krieski  Reedsburg, WI+17F+1789 89 
T8Bridget McCarthy  Verona, WI+17F+1789 89 
10Vivian Cressman  Middleton, WI+18F+1890 90 
11Sandy Nass  Elkhorn, WI+19F+1991 91 
12Eleanor Potter  Mequon, WI+29F+29101 101 

Third flight

1Susan Crowson  Madison, WI+9F+981 81 
2Rita Cooney  Colgate, WI+11F+1183 83 
3Bela Dodd  Brookfield, WI+13F+1385 85 
4Grace Warrner  Lakewood, WI+15F+1587 87 
5Susan Schellinger  Milwaukee, WI+18F+1890 90 
T6Jill Doucette  Cottage Grove, WI+20F+2092 92 
T6MaryBeth Buechel  Wauwatosa, WI+20F+2092 92 
T6Jeanne Whitish  Waunakee, WI+20F+2092 92 
9Dawn Thiel  Appleton, WI+22F+2294 94 
10Carla Hellerman  Oconomowoc, WI+25F+2597 97 
11Pat Kraft  Hartland, WI+28F+28100 100 
12Mary Beth Specht  Prairie Du Chien, WI+36F+36108 108 

Fourth flight

1Paula Garcia  Oconomowoc, WI+22F+2294 94 
T2Rosalind Gusinow  Madison, WI+25F+2597 97 
T2Kathy Algiers  Appleton, WI+25F+2597 97 
4Wendy Proctor  Brookfield, WI+26F+2698 98 
T5Mary Griebl  Hartford, WI+31F+31103 103 
T5Meng Xie Clayton  Oregon, WI+31F+31103 103 
T7Connie Hillmann  Germantown, WI+32F+32104 104 
T7Jane Kohl  Waukesha, WI+32F+32104 104 
9Gretchen Styles  Wauwatosa, WI+33F+33105 105 
10Patti Ohme  Appleton, WI+38F+38110 110 
11Lisa Peterson  Prairie du Chien, WI+40F+40112 112 
12Micki Hill  Madison, WI+43F+43115 115 

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