July 21, 2018
By RICK BROWN
BURLINGTON, Ia. – In the face of self-imposed adversity Saturday, Sierra Hargens finished like a champion.
Hargens, 19, opened the door with a double bogey on Spirit Hollow’s 16th hole, but rebounded with a pair of closing birdies to win the 94th Iowa Women’s Amateur by four shots.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Hargens, a junior-to-be at Indiana State, said after a final-round 76 and a three-day total of 228.
Emily Snelling of Clear Lake, playing in the second-to-last group, closed with a 76 and finished second at 232. Hannah Bermel of Cedar Falls, who started the final round one shot behind Hargens, closed with an 81 to finish third at 234.
Hargens went to the par-4 16th hole with a three-shot lead over Bermel, whose 71 in the first round was the lowest score posted for the championship. But Hargens had no idea how big her lead really was.
“I knew I was playing pretty well,” Hargens said. “I thought maybe I had a one-shot lead because that’s what I started with. But I didn’t know.”
In the first two rounds, Hargens hit perfect drives but bladed her second shot over the green at No. 16 both times.
“Today I said to myself, “I’m not going to blade it this time,’ ” Sierra said.
She overcompensated, hitting her second shot fat and into a fairway bunker.
“I had a pretty gnarly lie in that bunker,” Hargens said.
Standing with one foot in the bunker and the other foot out, she hit her third shot heavy and then left her approach short of the green.
Staring disaster in the face, she got up and down for a double-bogey 6. The damage was minimal when Bermel three-putted for bogey.
“Managing to salvage a double bogey calmed me down,” Sierra said.
She took matters into her own hands over the final two holes. A pair of good drives left her with one of her favorite clubs, her 54-degree wedge, in her hands. Hargens hit it to 5 feet on No. 17 and 2 feet on No. 18 to add her name to the distinguished and time-tested Iowa Women’s Amateur trophy.
Hargens took to golf at a late age. She played softball growing up, starting at 7 years of age. She was on the varsity team at Cedar Rapids Kennedy as a freshman, seeing most of her action at third base.
A year later, she had dropped softball and was playing varsity golf at Kennedy.
“I always played softball,” Hargens said. “But I didn’t really like it anymore. My dad (Scott) had always been a golfer. He’d say, “Come out and golf.’ I’d say, “No, I hate it.’ But I finally did and I was pretty good at it. So I kept on going with it.”
Sierra said that softball still makes a mess of her golf swing on occasion.
“It’s been tough to switch from softball to golf,” said Hargens, who turns 20 next month. “I’ve always struggled with quick hips. Sometimes I miss it left, right, who knows where. But I can hit it far. That saved me a lot of times out there.”
Her short game was another savior at Spirit Hollow. Hargens has spent a lot of time in the past year at Indiana State working on that short game.
“I didn’t hit the ball very well the first or second day, but I got up-and-down from everywhere,” she said.
Hargens said that over the course of her brief golf career, she usually bounces back from adversity in a positive manner. On Saturday, that double bogey was followed by pair of birdies.
“Take it one shot at a time, and things should work out,” Sierra said.
It did on Saturday, when she responded to adversity with a pair of radar approaches to the 17th and 18th pins. Thanks to that deadly 54-degree wedge.
Robin Webb captures Open Division
In the Open Division, Robin Webb of Clive shot 78-82-79 to capture the title over runner-up Kathy Fortune of Rockwell City. Webb came into the final round with a six shot lead and doubled that on Saturday to finish 12 shots clear of the field. Tying for third were Kelly Grimes of Indianola and Michelle Klein of Jesup.
July 20, 2018
On day two the players at the 94th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship were treated with difficult conditions once again, but this time it was due to a strong breeze rather than the heavy rains that left their mark on day one.
Birdies were difficult to come by as winds kicked up to 15+ mph throughout the day. The best score of the day was a 6-over par 78, shot by a quintet of players: Sierra Hargens (pictured above), Maddie Hawkins, Karli Kerrigan, Rachele Miller and Emily Snelling.
Hargens’ 78 vaulted her into the lead heading into the final round, as first round leader Hannah Bermel struggled to an 82 on Friday. But, thanks to her first round 71, Bermel sits just one shot back. Kerrigan will join Hargens and Bermel in the final group, as she is just two off the pace.
Making up the penultimate group will be Snelling, who is four back, Miller, who sits six behind and 2018 Women’s Match Play champion Sydney Eaton, who will start the final round seven shots off the lead.
Robin Webb is still in control of the Open Division. Firing an 82 today, with two birdies, brings her combined score total to 160. The closet competitor to her is Rockwell City’s Kathy Fortune who sits 6 strokes back. She’s been consistent with an 83 both days for a 166.
With the third and final round starting at 7:30 a.m., tomorrow morning, everyone will be using the knowledge they’ve gained over the past two days. Stay tuned to see who will be named Champion of the 94th Iowa Women’s Amateur.
July 19, 2018
Spirit Hollow Golf Course hosts the 94th Iowa Women’s Amateur in Burlington.
Day one of the 94th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship proved to be difficult. Not only did the players face the stern test of Spirit Hollow Golf Course, Mother Nature threw them a curveball.
A two-hour rain delay early in the round made a difficult course play even more so. When all was said and done, only one player broke par.
Hannah Bermel, of Cedar Falls, was that player. She converted four birdies on the way to a 1-under par 71. Just three strokes behind is Sierra Hargens. She mixed four birdies against six bogeys to post a 74 for the day.
After day 1, Robin Webb leads the Open Division with a 78, including three birdies (+6). Kathy Fortune tails in second with an 83. Current Senior Player of the Year leader Janece Schwartzkopf finishes tied for seventh at 89.
Day 2 begins at 8:00am with the Championship Division teeing off first followed by the Open Division.
July 18, 2018
The 94th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship will be played at Spirit Hollow Golf Course (pictured above) in Burlington on July 19-21. This marks the second Iowa Women’s Amateur held at Spirit Hollow, the last taking place in 2007.
The terrain at Spirit Hollow is diverse with frequent elevation changes. The 18-hole track is carved into rolling bluffs and lined with over 15,000 native trees. Natural streams meander throughout the course impacting 11 of the 18 holes. These dramatic features have earned Spirit Hollow the rating of #1 Best Course You Can Play in Iowa by Golf Week and also a Golf Digest ranking as one of the Best Places to Play.
“We created Spirit Hollow to allow golfers the opportunity to use every club in the bag,” said Rick Jacobson (course architect). “Throughout the course, you have options to execute different shots. It’s about Risk/Reward; after a bogey hole, you want the option to make par and get back on track.”
A strong group of amateurs from across the state will take on the 5,900 yard layout next week. The current leader of the IGA Women’s Player of the Year race Sydney Eaton, of Mason City, will look to add to her 2018 IGA Match Play win. Eaton recently completed her freshman year at the University of Northern Iowa this spring and where she tallied six tournament starts.
The UNI Panthers are well represented in the Championship Division with five current members of the university’s squad. Hailey and Hannah Bermel (So.), who are twins, have proven their ability to “go low” with their runner-up finish at the IGA Women’s Four-Ball where they had 10 combined birdies and one eagle. Emily Snelling (So.) and Sarah McMichael (Sr.) have a strong history of top finishes in IGA championships and will look to string three solid rounds together at Spirit Hollow.
Other experienced IGA players include Julie Buerman (2017 Women’s Player of the Year), Maddie Hawkins (2016 Junior Girls’ POY) and Karli Kerrigan (2013 Junior Girls’ POY). All are expected to be in the hunt coming down the stretch on Saturday afternoon.
The Open Division has several decorated players as well, including four-time Senior Women’s Player of the Year winner Rose Kubesheski of Dubuque and two-time Open Division champion Janece Schwartzkopf. Both have had success in 2018 with top finishes in IGA championships. Schwartzkopf captured the Forever 39 Match Play at Mason City CC while Kubesheski topped the Senior Division of the Women’s Four-Ball with partner Margene Grady at Otter Creek GC.
Beth Duenow of St. Ansgar, the 1995 Iowa Women’s Amateur champion, will also make the trek to Burlington in search of another victory. Two-time Senior Women’s POY, Carroll Dethrow of Nevada and Robin Webb of Clive (2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur qualifier) are in the field too and look to finish high on the leaderboard.