Honkers by a nose
Hatton-Northwood's Abby Knutson wasn't about to squander a second opportunity. The left-handed, Bemidji State University girls' golf recruit led the state Class B field by three strokes last season, before handing over the lead to eventual state ...
Hatton-Northwood's Abby Knutson wasn't about to squander a second opportunity.
The left-handed, Bemidji State University girls' golf recruit led the state Class B field by three strokes last season, before handing over the lead to eventual state girls' golf medalist Amber Piatz of Napoleon over the final 18 holes.
Once again leading by three strokes to begin Day 2 of the 2010 state Class B girls' golf tournament at Jamestown's Hillcrest Golf Course on Wednesday, Knutson successfully executed her revenge.
The senior from Hatton brushed off a bit of a slow start to birdie the fourth and sixth holes, both par-4s, on her way to a 2-over par 37 front nine. Knutson didn't waver from there, blasting a second 37 over the final nine to literally walk away with medalist honors with a two-day score of 150.
Knutson's score of 150 is six shots over par (144) at Hillcrest.
"I was thinking that not everyone gets a second chance. I came out to play my own game, and not worry about what the others shot," Knutson said. "I was a little shaky to start off. I bogeyed the first two holes, and I was in the water on two. But I found my rhythm and relaxed a little bit and it turned out to be a fun day."
Knutson entered the final day with a three-shot lead (76) over Central Cass senior Kamie Roesler (79). Roesler's day turned sour right from the get go, as she three-putted both the par-4 No. 1 and the par-4 No. 2.
Roesler carded an 85 on the day and finished the tournament in a runner-up tie with last year's medalist, Piatz, at 164. Piatz backed up her opening score of 83 with an 81 on Wednesday.
"Abby, she's a great golfer. She shot a 74, which is incredible," Roesler said. "I definitely thought I had a shot at winning. She just got in my head a little."
Roesler ended her day with yet another three-putt on the 415-yard par-5 18th.
"I just couldn't get my putter to work today," Roesler said. "That three-putt cost us the state championship."
Central Cass and Kenmare finished in a tie at 738 for top team honors. The officials went to the team's fifth golfer to determine the tie-breaker, and Kenmare's Brittany Harris's two-day total of 208 was enough to hand the Honker's their first state Class B girls' golf title over the Squirrels by 10 strokes. Kenmare didn't have a sixth golfer at the tournament.
Kenmare was paced by senior Meghan Essler, who finished the tournament in a four-way tie for seventh at 174. The Honkers' No. 3 golfer, sophomore Ashley Barnhart, fired a 182 which was second best for her team and placed her in a three-way tie for 21st.
"We knew it would be close," Essler said. "We saw we were in fourth after the first day. We knew we had to come out firing today and we did."
Barnhardt was the talk of the clubhouse on Day 1, after acing Hillcrest's 145-yard, par-3 8th with an 8-iron. Barnhardt shot identical 91s over both days.
"I teed-off last in my group and two in my group were within 20 feet of the hole," Barnhardt said. "I kept telling myself to just get it on the green and two-putt for par, and then my ball disappeared."
Linton's Hailey Dockter followed up her first day 84 with an 86 to finish in sole position of fourth at 170. Hazen's Kate Berg and Milnor's Paige Tompkins tied for fifth at 173.
Rounding out the top five teams were Hazen (739), Hatton-Northwood (752) and Grafton (762), respectively.
But the day belonged to Knutson, who was named the state Class B Outstanding Senior Athlete following the tournament.
"She's a big-game player, when the pressure's on it doesn't faze her. It's fun to watch her play," Hatton-Northwood coach Keenan Konschak said. "She worked on changing her approach on her swing two weeks before the state tournament, which is probably not what most coaches would recommend after she had won everything she'd competed in. Any little changes like that can have a big effect. She took a risk and it definitely paid off for her.
"She's the best athlete and best competitor I've ever coached."
Knutson's front-nine 37 on Wednesday gave her a six-stroke lead over the competition, and it was all a matter of sealing the deal after that.
"Last year I was so nervous I could hardly hold the club. I was a lot more comfortable this year," Knutson said. "I just wanted to make par and hoped and prayed nothing too bad would happen. I just tried to hit the fairways and it all worked out."
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com