OCONOMOWOC — Emily Joers had to wade through multiple weather delays, re-acquaint herself with the nuances of match-play golf and get to know another one of the rising starts in women's amateur golf Tuesday at the Wisconsin Women's State Golf Association Match-Play Championship.
And the Waukesha golfer gets to do it another day at Oconomowoc GC.
Joers, playing in a match-play format for the first time since her sophomore season at Illinois, rallied from an early deficit to beat UW-Green Bay-bound Courtney Matschke of Franklin 5-and-4 to reach the semifinals of the three-day event. She will play Santa Clara sophomore-to-be Sarah Busey of Racine, a 5-and-3 winner over Deerfield's Pat Roisum, in Wednesday's semifinals.
"The key was just staying patient," Joers wrote to Wisconsin.Golf via text message. "It was tough because of the rain delays and not knowing when you were going to go back out, if you were going to finish, etc. so you really had to stay patient. I also had to stay patient in the beginning of my match."
Credit Matschke for that. She jumped out to a 1-up lead after three holes and Joers wondered if her match-play experience would end as quick as it began.
"Courtney started off super hot; her putter was on fire and it was exciting to see!" Joers wrote. "I just needed to try to block that out and focus on what I was doing, not necessarily the awesome shots she was hitting."
Joers, who began her match on No. 10, regained control of her match and then hit what she described as her best shot of the day 11 holes into her match when she hit her short hybrid on the 381-yard second hole to 7 feet and made the birdie putt. Three holes later, Joers put away the match.
"I love match play way better than stroke play," said Joers, who loved having former Cardinal Stritch golfer Colton Duwe on the bag again for her first competitive event in more than two years. "It’s a different, more competitive mindset and I love that. You really do have to stay patient and consistently remind yourself that you’re playing the course, not your opponent, but that’s sometimes hard to remember. I had to shake off some rust with that."
Busey knows the feeling. Playing her first competitive event since finishing 10th at the West Coast Conference Championship in Santee, California, in mid-April, she started strong and took a 2-up lead on Roisum after three holes. After halving several holes, Busey said Roisum won two holes in a row to tighten the match before Busey was able to regain control and pull away.
"I wasn’t hitting my driver too well, but I made some clutch putts to halve holes," said Busey, who had never played Oconomowoc GC before this week. "I haven't played competitively in awhile so I'm excited to go out and play my best. I love the format. I am really competitive and sometimes the claws do come out, that's for sure."
On the other side of the bracket, Maggie Leef of Brookfield won by default over Mikayla Hauck of Cottage Grove, who is getting married later this month and, as the delays lingered, needed to tend to wedding plans. Leef will play UW-Green Bay golfer Ashley Kulka of Beaver Dam in the semifinals.
Kulka won the day's tightest match 1-up to eliminate Weber State golfer Taitum Beck of Waterford. After winning No. 5 to square the match, Kulka got up-and-down from a greenside bunker to go 1-up only to lose the next hole to fall back to all-square. With Nos. 13 and 14 rendered unplayable due to flooding earlier in the match, Kulka and Beck were forced to play Nos. 9 and 10 a second time to decide their match with Kulka winning No. 9 and then getting up-and-down from 88 yards on No. 10 to preserve the 1-up win.
"As for the game plan, I plan to just keep playing the course the way that I have been," said Kulka, who has boyfriend Brady Sarauer, a member of the UW-Green Bay men's team, on the bag this week, "and not be too concerned with anything else"