When Kirsten McLendon’s putt rolled around the cup and dropped in on the 15 green at Spring Creek Golf Course, she pumped her fist and turned around toward the crowd with a big smile on her face.
The birdie putt on the 420-yard par 5 secured McLendon the Illinois Valley Women’s Golf Invitational championship as she outlasted Karen Anderson in a three-hole playoff.
“It’s amazing,” said McLendon, who plays for Deer Park. “I’m not normally a tournament player. I usually like play days because I like the camaraderie of playing with the team.
“It was a little encouraging by my Deer Park teammates saying, ‘You need to play.’ I played a couple years ago and just thought it wasn’t for me, but it is. These tournaments need to happen for women as well.”
McLendon and Anderson, who was in A class, shot matching 82s to force the playoff.
“My husband (Kevin), when we watch PGA on Sundays says the best part of the tournaments are when they have playoffs,” McLendon said. “So to me it was kind of for him because he loves playoff golf. That’s what my thought was. I thought it was kind of fun I got to play in a playoff.”
The pair tied on Hole No. 17 and again on No. 18 before McLendon’s birdie on No. 15 to win the title.
“I just had three solid shots to get me to the green in regulation,” McLendon said. “That’s my main goal is always try to get to the green in regulation to give myself a chance to make a birdie or par putt because usually if you’re struggling and have to rescue that par, it’s kind of nice when you can get it a little bit easier when you’re already on the green in regulation.”
Anderson, who plays for Mendota, didn’t know she was playing for the overall title until after the playoff, but said she thinks that helped her.
“It feels great,” Anderson said. “I haven’t won anything in this tournament since 2011, so I was happy just to place. I was thrilled with (second overall).
“I didn’t realize what I was playing for. I’m glad I didn’t know that. I thought I was playing for the A title.”
Anderson got into the trees on the first playoff hole but managed to escape the trouble and match McLendon before tying her again on the next hole.
“That first one I was kind of in then trees and I’m bad at punching it out, so I just wanted to get back in the fairway,” Anderson said. “I was lucky she didn’t get closer on her ship. Normally, I’m a terrible putter, but I love the greens here and I was putting very well today and making putts I’d normally never make. My drives and second shots are usually pretty good, but it’s the irons, chipping and putting I usually struggle with. Today, it happened to come together.”
Anderson took home the A class title followed by Gina Elias (93) and Angie Farraher (94).
Julie Schmitt placed second in the championship class with an 83 followed by St. Bede senior Gianna Grivetti, who shot an 86 to tie with Cheri Russell but took third on a scorecard playoff.
“I’m very proud of myself,” Grivetti said. “I wasn’t really expecting it because throughout the year I’m very much an inconsistent golfer, so I’m very happy with how I did today.
“I kind of messed up a little bit at the end, but I kept it together the majority of the round and felt like I was pretty consistent throughout.”
Grivetti said she hopes this tournament finish propels her to a successful high school season.
“This will definitely boost my confidence for my season to come,” Grivetti said. “I’m hoping this will reflect my season.”
McLendon and Schmitt led Deer Park to the Gross Team title with a 363. Dee Piercy (96) and Terry Folmar (102) rounded out the scores for Deer Park.
Anderson helped Mendota win the Net Team title at 300. Farraher, Tammy Howlett and Linda Molln rounded out Mendota’s top four.
Mary Kieffer (94) won the B class followed by Tammy Johnson (97) and Nancy Pierson (99), Mary Stander (106) claimed the C class followed by Karen Towns (108) and Jan Booker (109), Shelley Felske (88) won the Senior class and Lana Atkinson (102) won the Super Senior class.