FORT WAYNE – Heading into the final round of the Indiana PGA Women’s Open at Brookwood Golf Club, the leaderboard was crowded. Julia Potter, Indianapolis, Brittany Kelly, The Hawthorns GCC, and McKenzie Hilsmeyer, Jasper, were tied for the lead at 2-under-par.
As the day progressed, the leaderboard remained jam-packed, with no single player pulling ahead.
With one hole to play, Potter and Kelly saw themselves at 5-under-par for the event. However, playing one group ahead, Sydney Anderson of Columbus, also scored her way to 5-under-par, with the help of back-to-back birdies on holes 16 and 17.
Potter and Kelly shared pars on 17 and headed to 18 in a tie with Anderson.
Anderson completed the hole first, making par. Potter gave herself a good look at birdie, while Kelly missed her 40 foot attempt.
Potter missed her birdie putt on the high side and both she and Kelly were in the clubhouse at 5-under-par.
“Standing over my putt on 18 was probably the most nervous golfing moment I have had in my life,” Potter said. “I had the opportunity to win the event and I really had to calm myself down. I hit a good putt and missed it on the high side, so I couldn’t beat myself up over it.”
The trio headed to a playoff, which began on the par-5, 1st. Kelly missed her drive in the right rough and went on to make bogey, sealing her Open fate. Potter missed another close birdie opportunity and she and Anderson shared pars.
Potter and Anderson headed to the par-4, 2nd for their second playoff hole. Both players hit the green, but had over 20 feet each for birdie. Anderson hit her putt seven feet past the hole and missed her par putt coming back. Potter two-putted for her first ever Open win, the one event she was missing from her golf resume.
“I have been in contention more times than I can count,” Potter said. “I am happy with the way I played and proud that heading to 18 I was still in the mix.”
Potter is a three-time IHSAA State Champion, a USGA Champion (Women’s Mid-Am, ’13), a four-time IWGA Alice O’Neal Dye Player of the Year, a two-time IWGA Match Player Champion (’09, ’16), a four-time Indiana Women’s Amateur Champion (’07, ’08, ’14, ’15) and now an Indiana PGA Women’s Open Champion.
“This is incredibly special,” Potter said. “It is one of my best moments in my golfing career and the one I have wanted to win for so long. To have a match play, a State Am and now an Open title, I feel complete.”
Potter will compete in the IWGA Championship, which will take place August 13-14 at Otter Creek GC in Columbus. She will also compete in the USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, September 10-15 at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa.
“A win like this gives me confidence,” Potter said. “I hope to continue to play well for the rest of my season and we will see what happens.”
Anderson, a rising sophomore at Ball State University, posted her first under-par round ever today at Brookwoord and grabbed a runner-up finish in the playoff.
“I’m very happy with how I played,” Anderson said. “I just tried to stay relaxed and play my own game. Finishing second after a great round today is an incredible feeling.”
Kelly, who finished third, also grabbed low professional honors.
A host of locals are active in the tournament, led by Mishawaka’s Cassidy Jurkaites, who shot 76-75-151 to tie for 15th. Madison Chestnutt of Mishawaka rallied with a 72 in her second round to go 82-72-154 to tie for 25th. Lindsey Budnik of North Manchester shot 81-77-158 to finish tied for 38th, and Kinley Lingenfelter of Rochester went 81-78-159 to tie for 40th.
Linnzie Richner of Nappanee went 78-82-160 to tie for 43rd, Melanie DeGroff of Elkhart shot 82-85-167 to tie for 56th, Andi Sandler of South Bend took 58th after her 83-85-168, Macenzie Lane of Columbia City was at 94-95-189 for a tie in 76th and Hannah Jennings of Bourbon posted a 102-105-207 and was 78th.