Write Up Provided By: Rick Pledl
Tess Hackworthy admits she played “a boring round of golf” on Thursday afternoon in the final round of the Wisconsin State Women’s Open Championship. But there’s nothing boring about winning the same state championship golf tournament four years in a row, and that’s what Hackworthy accomplished at Stevens Point CC.
Hackworthy, a 22-year-old amateur from Madison who plays on the University of Wisconsin golf team, extended her reign in this event with a two-stroke win over Jenna Peters, a professional from Kohler.
“I put in a lot of hard work, so it feels good to get it done,” Hackworthy said Thursday afternoon.
Hackworthy grabbed the first-round lead on Wednesday with a 2-under-par 70, which turned out to be the low round of the tournament. Hackworthy returned Thursday to shoot 1-under 71 for a final score of 3-under 141.
Peters shot 71-72–143 for runner-up honors, and the next closest pursuer finished another six strokes behind.
Hackworthy has won this tournament various ways in the last four years, including in a playoff two years ago at Racine CC, but this year she essentially lag-putted her way to victory.
On the back nine on Tuesday, Hackworthy tapped-in for par on seven of the nine holes. She might have won by a large margin if a few of her birdie strokes had hit the target, but they didn’t so she settled for a steady string of pars and her two-stroke margin.
“It felt really tight all day long, so that was really good pressure for me,” Hackworthy said. “I like playing under pressure – it’s kind of why we’re out here. Today felt really good, minus a couple ball strikes here and there that I mishit. I was able to grind out a couple of them. Today, my short game was able to save me.”
With Hackworthy presumably in cruise control and rolling in par putts on the back nine, the tournament suddenly tightened up again when Peters birdied the 16th and 17th holes to get within two strokes. Peters hit her 151-yard approach on 16 to inside a foot for one birdie, and she dropped an 18-foot putt for another on the 17th green.
“I knew I had to expect the best from her, and sure enough she made birdie-birdie coming in,” Hackworthy said of Peters. “So I had to expect her putt on 18 was going to go in as well.”
Peters birdie putt from 25 feet on No. 18 did not drop. Moments later Hackworthy made her par on 18 from about 4 feet, the longest made putt on her back nine.
The final threesome Thursday afternoon was an interesting mix of players. There was Hackworthy, a college player, and Peters, who is a 25-year-old pro. Then there was Mallory Swartz, the third player in the group who at 16-going-on-17 was playing in the final pairing at the State Women’s Open for the first time. Like a few other junior girls in the field, Swartz doubled up in central Wisconsin, playing the Lake Arrowhead Invitational in Nekoosa earlier this week before competing in the State Women’s Open.
To say that Swartz accounted herself well in this tournament would be a gross understatement. After opening with a 73 on Wednesday, Swartz came out firing on Thursday, beginning her round with a birdie on No. 1 and dropping an eagle from the fairway on the par-4 fifth hole.
“I hit a nice drive in the fairway, and I had 137 yards left to the hole,” Swartz said of her eagle. “I hit a three-quarter 8-iron shot, and I hit it good but I never saw it land. And then I saw someone up by the green point down at the hole. I never had an eagle before, so it’s awesome for my first one to be in a tournament like this.”
Swartz missed a few fairways on the back nine leading to a closing 43, but afterward she was happy with her result, an impressive tie for fourth place.
Meantime, Peters suffered another close defeat in the State Women’s Open. She also finished second to Hackworthy at the 2016 State Women’s Open at Mascoutin GC, and she tied for third last year at Janesville CC.
“We’ll, it could have been better, but it’s nice to finish under par again,” Peters said of her play at Stevens Point CC. “Hopefully, maybe, I’ll win next year. It’s been right there. I’m just waiting for it.”
Mia Seeman of Milton finished third, shooting scores of 74-75–149, eight strokes behind Hackworthy. Swartz, who lives in Franklin, shot 73-79–152 and finished in a tie for fourth with Alexis Thomas of Middleton, who shot 75-77–152.
The Wisconsin PGA would like to express our appreciation to the three supporting partners of the Wisconsin State Women’s Open. The Suter Group – Morgan Stanley, TaylorMade Golf, and the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic provided all the support that was needed to help put together a great two days for the participants.
A big thank you also goes out to the membership and staff at Stevens Point CC. The club provided a terrific venue for the event, which was a great test of golf with plenty of variety. The WPGA also would like to thank the club members that volunteered their time to help live score the event.