Minnesota Golf Association

Klasse Qualifies for 10th Consecutive U.S. Senior Women's Amateur

July 30, 2019

 
By Nick Hunter
nick@mngolf.org
 
 
  WACONIA, Minn. – When it comes to golf in the state of Minnesota, very few people have been as dominant as Leigh Klasse has for nearly two decades. The 59-year-old, who was elected to the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame in 2014, owns over 50 state victories and has appeared in an astonishing 83 USGA national championships.
 
The nine-time Minnesota Golf Association Senior Women’s Player of the Year and four-time MGA Women’s Player of the Year advanced to her 84th USGA championship Tuesday, shooting a 2-over par 73 for a five-stroke victory at Island View Golf Club, earning the lone qualifying spot to her 10th consecutive U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
 
"I’ve been working really hard lately—practicing a little more and playing a little bit less, Klasse said after qualifying Tuesday. “I wanted to make sure my contact was good and trying to be more conscientious about hitting greens in regulation.
 
“I think this was the hardest one [to qualify for] because there’s only one spot. I knew Brenda [Williams] was in the field and this used to be her home course and she knows it so well, so it was a tough one.”
 
In nine previous appearances at the championship, Klasse has qualified for match play each time, advancing as far as the Round of 16 four times, including last year’s tournament at Orchid Island Beach and Golf Club before falling to Corey Weworski, 1-up.
 
But standing just off the 18th green after qualifying for the 10th straight season, Klasse said her reign as one of the state’s best golfers may be nearing an end, suggesting it may be time to slow her competitive golf career.
 
“I really wanted this one for 10 straight, but I’m starting to get to the point where I’m thinking about backing off on my schedule and give somebody else the opportunity to win senior player of the year. Next year I might have to evaluate what events I want to play in. I didn’t play in the [MGA Women’s Amateur] this year, so there might be a few others I back off of.”
 
Klasse played her opening nine in 1-over Tuesday by carding a birdie against two bogeys before drawing even at the par-5 14th with her second birdie of the round. Despite a pair of late bogeys, Klasse cruised into the clubhouse with a five-stroke victory at 73.
  
“I didn’t start out really well today. I had a little problem with my driver, which is kind of unusual,” the ever-steady Klasse said. “I kept flaring it right, but made a couple of good pars to start and that probably boosted me a bit. I got to the back nine and squared it away and started to hit it just fine. Today when you only have one spot, par is pretty good.
 
“I got back to even par at 14 and thought that even par would be a pretty good spot, but I proceeded to three-putt the next two holes. That got a little scary there. I felt like I was putting pretty good until those three-putts. I was hitting the ball really well and hit a lot of greens in regulation, but I just wasn’t necessarily making putts for birdie.”
 
This year’s national championship will be played Aug. 24-29 at Cedar Rapids Country Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
 
“Because this tournament is in Iowa, I feel like the bentgrass is going to be familiar. I haven’t seen anything about the course, but I assume it’s tree-lined and you’ve got to hit it straight, which suits my game. It just comes down to putting, and I’m working on that.”
 
By qualifying Tuesday, Klasse overtakes Betsy Aldrich by just five points in the standings for MGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year honors, which will likely be determined by the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur in three weeks at Cannon Golf Club. A 10th straight Women’s Senior Player of the Year award would be the longest streak by any golfer since the awards began in 1975.
 
Brenda Williams, of Minnetrista, Minn., and Norma O’Leary, from Silver Bay, Minn., finished as first and second alternates, respectively.
 
Home to both the Iowa men’s and women’s amateur championship numerous times, Cedar Rapids Country Club hosts its first USGA event since the Donald Ross design opened in 1915.   

 


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