Write-up provided by Rick Pledl – email@example.com
Emily Lauterbach won her second Sentry Wisconsin State Women’s Open title in the last three years on Thursday, but this one felt a lot different than the first one in 2020.
First, as Lauterbach pointed out at a brief awards ceremony Thursday afternoon, this year’s victory was a particular source of pride for her because her first State Women’s Open win in 2020 came on her home course, The Legend at Brandybrook in Wales.
So this one – a playoff win on the Woodlands Course at The Golf Courses of Lawsonia in Green Lake – just felt like a bigger accomplishment.
Another cool thing about Lauterbach’s latest win is the fact that this year’s State Women’s Open was the first to be contested at 54 holes. Lauterbach, a resident of Hartland, suggested afterward that the length of this event helped her.
“It was awesome winning it at 54 holes this year instead of 36, especially since I shot 41 on my first nine holes (Tuesday),” Lauterbach said. “I lost five strokes right away on the first nine holes, but I knew I had so many more holes to go.”
Lauterbach, a senior-to-be on the University of Wisconsin women’s golf team, actually had to play a 55th hole Thursday, as she defeated professional Bobbi Stricker of Madison in a one-hole sudden-death playoff.
After that 5-over start on her first nine, Lauterbach righted the ship and scraped together a 2-over 74 in the opening round. Then she played herself into the lead after 36 holes with a superb round of 68 on Wednesday, the low round of the tournament, where she recorded five birdies and a lone bogey.
Lauterbach entered Thursday’s final round at 2-under 142, tied for the lead with professional Bobbi Stricker of Madison, who opened with rounds of 72-70.
Throughout the day it’d be a two-horse race with Lauterbach and Stricker battling back and forth. Lauterbach would hold control of the lead for the majority of the day but never jump out in front by more than two shots. After back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 by Lauterbach, the two would find themselves all tied up. The tie was short lived though as Lauterbach would roll in an eight-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th to regain the lead.
Heading to the closing hole the tournament was still in Lauterbach’s hands, however her approach on the par-5 18th sailed to the back of the green, where she faced a treacherous downhill putt of about 40 feet with a severe break to the right. Her first putt rolled past the hole and stopped about eight feet away. With the chance to put away the win, she was unable to convert the comebacker and had to settle for bogey.
Stricker’s approach on 18 would come up short, but she chipped on and dropped a short putt for her par.
Both Lauterbach and Stricker shot rounds of 74 Thursday to finish tied at even-par 216.
Lauterbach and Stricker then went back to the 18th tee for the start of their playoff, but it didn’t last long after Stricker’s tee shot flared right and hit a tree branch.
Stricker caught a bit of a break when her ball bounced out of the woods to a clean lie, but she was out of position and fighting an uphill battle to try to keep the playoff going.
Lauterbach, however, played the extra hole to perfection. She hit her drive in the fairway, hit a 6-iron layup to 78 yards from the hole and dropped her third shot with her 60-dgree wedge about 5 feet from the hole. Then she made her birdie putt to win the title.
Afterward, Stricker, who turned pro in January, was all smiles after a solid week of play, but she lamented the fact that she couldn’t make a single birdie over the final 18.
Stricker made two bogeys on the front nine in the final round before closing with 10 straight pars.
“Overall it was really solid,” Stricker said of her play this week. “Today, I’m a little bummed because I couldn’t get the ball in the hole and didn’t make one birdie, which stinks. But all week I was hitting it where I was looking.”
The final player in the last threesome of the day Thursday was professional Carly Werwie-Swartz of Kenosha, who shot rounds of 74-72-76 to finish as one of three players tied for third place at 223.
However, Werwie-Swartz played under some unique circumstances this week. Although she’s about five months pregnant and sporting a baby bulge, she hung in there with some great shots down the stretch, including consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 on Thursday.
“It wasn’t too bad,” a laughing Werwie-Swartz said of playing a tournament while pregnant. “I know I can still play, even though things will get tougher as my stomach gets bigger here coming up. Overall, I think some of the shots I missed were because I haven’t played a lot this whole spring.”
Also tying for third place at 223 were professional Taitum Beck of Waterford (75-75-73) and amateur Mia Seeman of Milton (72-77-74). Seeman, the defending champion, won the State Women’s Open last year on the Links Course at Lawsonia, also in a playoff.
A big thank you goes out to Sentry Insurance for their title sponsorship of the Wisconsin State Women’s Open. With their great support along with supporting partners, The Suter Ward Group at Morgan Stanley and TaylorMade Golf, the Wisconsin PGA was able to present a great championship for the players to enjoy.
The Wisconsin PGA would also like to express our appreciation to everyone at The GC’s of Lawsonia. The Woodlands Course provided a great contrast to last year’s event on the Links Course. The facility did a great job of hosting and the course was in very nice shape.