Klasse Medals, Advances to U.S. Senior Women's Amateur with Kellar-Luther and Aldrich

June 27, 2022
By Nick Hunter

  WAYZATA, Minn. – Collecting more than 50 state championship victories during her hall of fame career, 14-time Minnesota Golf Association Player of the Year Leigh Klasse reached another milestone Monday by carding a 1-over 73 at Woodhill Country Club to earn a spot in the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur—her 60th USGA championship.

“It’s kind of monumental,” the 62-year-old Klasse said Monday. “I’m very much looking forward to spending some time in Alaska."

“I know it’s going to be a great experience and I’ll get to see some friends that I only see at national events.”

Also advancing to this year’s national championship, set to be played July 30-August 4 at Anchorage Golf Course in Anchorage, Alaska, are Andrea Kellar-Luther and two-time defending Minnesota Golf Association Senior Women’s Player of the Year, Betsy Aldrich.

Klasse began with a three-putt bogey at the first but built momentum by sinking a 25-footer to save par at the second, following it with her first birdie of the round at the third.

Rolling in a 4-footer at the eighth put Klasse at 1-over for the tournament and she would draw even after hitting her approach to a foot at the par-4 10th.

Trading a fourth birdie of the round with a bogey over her next seven holes, Klasse would finish the day with a bogey at the last to earn medalist honors at 1-over 73.

“I had a few bogeys, but also had a few birdies to cover it. No big numbers, so that’s always a good round,” The 62-year-old Klasse said. “I hit the ball really well—I can’t say that I chipped all that well, but I hit the ball well and didn’t have to do a lot of chipping.”

Klasse advances to her 11th U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur and first since 2019.

Kellar-Luther, a former teaching professional who regained her amateur status in September, fired a 2-over 74 Monday to qualify for her first USGA championship since the 1991 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Desert Highlands, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“I’m really excited,” Kellar-Luther said following her round Monday. “I just love USGA venues and I’ve been removed from that for a long time."

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect because I haven’t played competitively in 25 years. An early birdie, a couple of bogeys and missed a couple of birdie putts. I was nervous the first two holes and then my drives started settling down. There wasn’t a lot of drama out there today. I had some easy pars, makeable birdies and then got up-and-down when I had to.”

A former teacher at both Interlachen Country Club and, most recently, Olympic Hills Golf Club, Kellar-Luther carded a birdie at the second Monday and would card two bogeys over the final seven holes of her front nine to turn in 1-over.

Finding her stride mid-round, Kellar-Luther carded eight consecutive pars before a bogey at the 17th would put her into the clubhouse in second place with a 74, one shot off Klasse’s lead to safely secure her spot in the national championship beginning next month.

“I love playing the game and I just wasn’t teaching anymore,” said Kellar-Luther on her decision to regain amateur status last fall. “I still love to get people involved in the game, but I wanted to play with my husband in some amateur events. I still feel like I can contribute to the game, but just not necessarily making a living through the game."

Playing on her home course Monday, Aldrich survived a bumpy final nine holes to claim the third and final qualifying spot to her second straight U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, shooting 9-over 81.

“I played well on the front and had a tough stretch on the back—I went 7-over in five holes,” Aldrich said Monday. “I thought I shot myself out of it, but I finished strong after that."

“Sometimes when you play on your home course it’s a bit of a curse because they move the tees back in spots you don’t normally play. The course is a lot firmer and faster than it has been in the past, which made shots into the green and putting different and challenging."

Following a bogey at the fourth Monday, Aldrich countered by sinking back-to-back birdies at the fifth and sixth hole, eventually turning in 1-over. She began her final nine holes with bogeys at the 10th and 11th and a pair of doubles over her next three before finding her footing late and making par at three of her final four holes to post an 81.

“It’s very gratifying to qualify and it’s always fun to go.”

Brenda Williams, from Minnetrista, Minn., and M.J. Graphenteen, of Luverne, Minn., finished as first and second alternates, respectively.
 

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter is entering his tenth season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA's website. He resides in New Prague with his wife, Amber, and two sons.

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