Klasse Fights Through Conditions, Takes Opening-Round Lead at MGA Women's Senior Amateur

August 16, 2021
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By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  BEMIDJI, Minn. – Leigh Klasse, a winner of 10 consecutive Minnesota Golf Association Senior Women’s Player of the Year honors, fired a 5-over 77 Monday in challenging conditions at Bemidji Town and Country Club to take a one-stroke lead following the opening round of the 2021 MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Championship.
 
After missing a majority of the 2020 season with a hip injury, Klasse in now in position to claim her first win since the 2019 championship at Cannon Golf Club.
 
“I hit the ball really well and hit a lot of greens in regulation, especially considering the wind,” Klasse said following her round Monday. “I didn’t start out putting very well—my pace was really off.
 
“I started out with a couple of three-putts in the first three holes. I felt they were going to be slower putts and they weren’t. I had some good chances at birdie, but I didn’t make the putts.”
 
Beginning the championship on the 10th tee Monday, the 2014 Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame inductee got off to a bumpy start in the dry, fast and windy conditions Monday, carding three consecutive bogeys early during her front nine before getting a stroke back with a birdie at the 16th, rolling in an 8-footer.
 
Klasse would turn in 3-over following a bogey at the 17th, but would find her footing during her back nine Monday, carding a pair of bogeys at the second and fifth holes to post an opening-round 77 to pace the field and move one step closer to her 24th state championship at the senior level.
 
“This year has been a struggle—I’m still coming back from my surgery, but I feel like I’ve been playing really well,” said Klasse, who played in just one senior event in 2020. “I’ll just have one or two really dumb holes, and that’s just me not being very sharp. I feel like I’m hitting the ball well, I’m just not capitalizing on it."
 
Beginning her round on the 10th tee Monday, Miller opened with a birdie on the first hole to quickly move into red figures for the championship, but would stumble with a double-bogey at the 12th, dropping to 1-over for the round.
 
Carding four bogeys over her next six holes, Miller turned in 5-over before finding more consistency during her back nine. Following bogeys at the first and fifth holes, Miller would finish with a birdie at the ninth, sinking a 15-footer to move within striking distance of Klasse ahead of Tuesday’s final round.
 
“I started with a birdie and ended with a birdie—I made some nice putts out there,” Miller said Monday. “The hardest part today was deciding if it was a one-club or two-club difference with the wind. Committing to the shot was the biggest thing. It’s always hard to club up two clubs because you don’t want to be above these holes.
 
“My irons and mid-irons were good today and it was nice to hit some straight shots. With this wind, you’ve got to keep it on line. Tomorrow I just have to be smart and keep the ball in the fairway. If I miss a green, getting up-and-down is my key. A lot of these greens don’t bump-and-run like normal, so I just need a little more loft, be firm and get it to the hole.”
 
Coming off of rotator cuff surgery last fall and two previous knee replacements, Miller said she’s finally healthy, which has helped her to a pair of top-5 finishes this season.
 
“This is the first year in, I don’t know how many years, where I don’t feel like I have an injury coming in. It’s the first time I can finish a swing and not pull up because it’s going to hurt.”
 
Miller is looking for her first win of the 2021 season after picking up a win in 2019 at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship with partner Klasse, and successfully defended her title the following year with Betsy Aldrich.
 
Defending champion Adele Peterson fired a 7-over 79 Monday and will begin Tuesday’s final round tied with 2013 Minnesota Golf Hall of Famer Claudia Pilot. Pilot has nine senior titles to her credit, including two wins this season at the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Match Play and the MGA Women’s Senior Four-Ball with partner Brenda Williams.
 
Linda Holzemer, from Hastings Golf Club, fired a 5-over 77 Monday to take the 18-hole lead in the First Flight. Holzemer will enter Tuesday’s final round with a four-stroke lead over Pam Johnson, who is playing on her home course this week.
 
A 12-over 84 during Monday’s opening round gave Mary George a three-stroke advantage in the Second Flight after 18 holes of play. George, from Braemar Golf Club, will have to fend off Chris Schommer when the tournament resumes Tuesday, while Susan Tesch sits in third place, four strokes off the lead.
 
Marion Holly, of Keller Golf Club, opened with a 17-over 89 during Monday’s first round of competition in the Third Flight, and will take a one-stroke lead over Shawna Johnson, of Keller Golf Club, and Ann Brilley, from Baker National Golf Course, to the final round Tuesday.
 
In the Fourth Flight, Emi Sako, from Highland National Golf Course, carded a 21-over 93 during the first round Monday and will take a slim one-shot advantage over Sue Olafson, from Dwan Golf Course, to the final round when play gets underway Tuesday.
 
Monica Overcamp, of Highland National Golf Course, posted a 22-over 94 Monday to take a four-stroke lead over Jean Solheim, from Minnewaska Golf Club, in the Fifth Flight.
 
The 2021 MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Championship continues Tuesday when the final round begins at 7:30 a.m. at Bemidji Town and Country Club.



 

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