Klasse the class of the field
If anyone other than Leigh Klasse had the idea of winning the 34th annual Minnesota Women's Public Golf Associaton Senior Publinks championship, Klasse didn't allow those thoughts to linger for long.
Klasse started Tuesday's final round on the back nine at Eastwood Golf Course with a three-shot lead over Austin's Claudia Pilot.
Klasse birdied her second hole of the day, the 459-yard, par-5 11th. That was the first of her three birdies in the opening nine holes, as she extended her lead to six shots at the turn and went on to a nine-shot victory over Pilot.
Klasse, who plays out of Meadowbrook Golf Course in Hopkins, shot a 1-over-par 72 Tuesday, following her 2-over 73 on Monday, for a two-day total of 145.
"I hit it pretty steady," Klasse said. "I was well ahead (after the first nine Tuesday), so I was just looking to shoot a good number. I was looking for birdie putts, but if they weren't there, just making sure to get pars."
Klasse also birdied the par-4 15th (432 yards) and par-3 17th (186 yards), playing her first nine holes Tuesday in 1-under. As did most players in the field, Klasse raved about the new back nine at Eastwood, which opened in 2008.
"I really like that back nine," she said. "That's a gem."
Pilot played well, shooting 39 on both sides of the course Tuesday, but the seven-time Minnesota Golf Association Women's Player of the Year wasn't satisfied with her putting.
"I had a couple of bad holes," said Pilot, who officially plays out of Wedgewood in Albert Lea. "I didn't make many putts. I made a nice par save on our last hole, but that was about it. I felt like I could've given her a challenge if I had made a few more putts."
It's the second consecutive MWPGA Senior Publinks title for Klasse, a three-time MGA Women's Player of the Year.
She'll continue a busy month of August next Tuesday when she competes in a USGA Senior Amateur sectional qualifier at Brackett's Crossing Country Club in Lakeville. The following week, Klasse will compete in the US Women's Mid-Amateur sectional qualifier at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence.
Pilot, however, won't have to play in the U.S. Women's Senior Am qualifier. She placed in the top eight last year and is exempt into this year's championship, scheduled for Sept. 10-15 at the Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Pilot said she hopes to play better in the coming weeks, even though her two-day score of 154 was by far the second-best total of the championship. Third-place finisher Nicki Reuterfeldt of Bunker Hills was four shots back.
"It's a tale of two nines (at Eastwood)," Pilot said. "I came over a few weeks ago and played it. The fairways and the greens are totally differen. The new back nine is spectacular, really beautiful."
Champions were crowned in eight other flights on Tuesday.
• Molly Baker of Brookview Golf Course chipped in from off the green on the first playoff hole to win the first flight. She and Ann Brilley of Baker National were tied at 167 after 36 holes.
• Three golfers from Eastwood won flights on their home course. Jan Barton won the second flight with a two-round total of 169, Donna Martin finished at 186 to win the fifth flight, and Janice Bailey won the eighth flight with a score of 218.
• Other flight winners were: Jeri Meola of Wirth Golf Course (third flight, 181); Carol Dennis of Baker National (fourth flight, 191); Mary Lou Hoff from Hollydale Golf Course (sixth flight, 194); and Judy Hoy of Brookview Golf Course (seventh flight, 196).