Undecided until the final hole, the 99th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship at Finkbine Golf Course, Iowa City, was a nail-biter. The leaderboard was in constant flux, with five players exchanging the lead throughout the round. In the end, the Hawkeye sophomore Kaitlyn Hanna (above) had the last laugh, walking away with a home course victory on Iowa golf’s biggest amateur stage.
Hanna fired a final round (-1) 71, tying the lowest round of the tournament, to trump a four-stroke deficit and win by one. Playing in the penultimate pairing, her dad was the one to break the good news to her.
After a great summer working with her coaches, “It was great to cap it off with a win,” Hanna admitted.
Despite live scoring, the Omaha, NE native played her round unaware of her standing in the mix. She focused on her own execution, keeping the ball below the pin and aiming for the center of the green each approach.
It wasn’t easy, however.
Hanna found herself in the rough short-right of the green on her final hole, with only a few yards of firm green to work with. Even among the final pairings there were numerous players who fell victim to that very same rough. With the tournament on the line and spectators watching, an excellent chip left Hanna with a tap-in par and a (+6) 222 total. Her short-game, which she considers her forte, was on full display when it mattered most.
Marshalltown’s Amber Henson entered the final hole tied for the lead, but ended up short-sided in the rough. Being pin-high, she had less green than Hanna had, and was unable to convert the difficult up-and-down. Henson finished runner-up at (+7) 223 after her bogey on Hole 18.
At the day’s break, Cedar Falls’ Hannah Bermel, Ames’ Eden Lohrbach, and Henson led the field. But during the round, Dubuque’s Breanna Felderman showed her strength, playing 1-under through the first thirteen holes and claiming a narrow lead. Yet a disastrous +7 finishing stretch in her final five holes removed her from the conversation. She finished tied fifth with Bettendorf’s Maura Peters at (+13) 229.
Bermel, struggling to close out on the greens, also fell to Finkbine’s final five holes, which she played +6. She finished fourth at (+12) 228. Despite netting just one birdie, Lohrbach managed to squeeze by the tail-end gauntlet 2-over and was rewarded with a third place finish.
Not to miss out on the excitement, the Open Division was up for grabs as well. Dubuque’s Rose Kubesheski finished third at (+32) 248, only one stroke away from Waterloo’s Kelly Nelson and Des Moines’ Tish Boothe (right), who headed to a playoff after carding (+31) 247. Boothe, who had not played a solo event since a local tournament in 2011, won after one hole. Boothe’s dramatic return to the Iowa golf scene sparks anticipation for her next appearance.
The championship was a testament to the difficulty of competing at a high level and the strength of women’s golf in this state. The IGA looks forward to next year’s centennial 100th Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship at Sunnyside Golf and Country Club, the host of the inaugural Women’s Amateur Championship over a century ago.