FORT WAYNE – Amber Sieber has had quite a few people calling her choice words lately: Defending champion.
Everybody is saying, Oh, you are the defending champion.’ I’ve heard it like 100 times this week. Is it that big a deal?
Yes, it is.
Especially when they’re talking about the Fort Wayne Women’s Golf Association City Tournament, which has been run since Hillis Snyder won the first one in 1931.
And Sieber, 34, has never held this title before.
After years of trying, she won last year at Brookwood Golf Club by shooting a three-day total of 5-under 214 and defeating four-time champion Michelle Smith on the first playoff hole.
Cue the goings on this week, when friends, family, people at church, even those on the course at Coyote Creek Golf Club – site of this year’s tournament – made sure that Sieber knew this is a whole different ballgame this year.
But Sieber is easygoing about golf; she is much more concerned with taking care of her kids than worrying about the amount of draw on her irons.
Which isn’t to say she doesn’t practice; recently, while on a family trip to catch walleye in Minnesota, she snuck in some golf.
It’s just that she’s a different kind of player than when she played at Ohio State. She doesn’t take it too seriously and she goes for the gusto instead of playing it safe.
My dad starts to giggle when I talk about not playing for three weeks and still shooting 3 under, Sieber said. He says, I can’t believe it. I just don’t understand.’ But when I get out there, it’s my one chance and there’s no pressure.
I play a lot more fearlessly now and whereas, years ago, I’d think that I’d better lay with my 5-iron, now I just swing my driver and go for it.
Coyote Creek can be a much more treacherous course than Brookwood, which had played host to the past several City Tournaments, and Sieber is glad for the change.
I love that it’s at a new course, she said. The reason why is that it will bring out the real talent. That’s what I think. When you play the same course all the time, you start knowing where your shots have to go, where to lay it up, and where you need to be to shoot for the pins. This will be different.
Smith will try to join Pat Wright, Jean Saint, Pat McGary and Helen Greiner as the only players with five or more titles. Other contenders this year include Ashton Taft, Lakin Davis, Lori Stinson, Hilary Bowman, Sarah Dusman, Karley Dobis, Lauren Gant, Michelle Gerbasich, Katie Giant and Allison Curtis.
Coyote Creek is definitely challenging, Sieber said. It makes me really excited, and I’m anticipating the day.