Ignorance can be bliss, especially for a golfer on the 18th hole, needing to sink a curving 6-foot putt to win the biggest tournament in town in front of about 60 spectators.
That was the situation for Lori Stinson, who knew only that she was putting to save bogey. It was, in actuality, also for her second straight championship at the Women's City Tournament.
She drained the putt at Autumn Ridge Golf Club and went into the history books as one of five people to win the 89-year-old tournament five times.
“I had no idea until after 18, when a friend of mine said, 'Did you know you needed that putt to win?' I had no idea because I knew where I was with Morgan and Madi (Dabagia), who were in my group, and I didn't know about anyone else. Thankfully, that last putt went in,” Stinson said.
“I'm glad I didn't know. I was just trying to get a good two-putt, get the speed and get the line, so it worked out.”
Stinson, 49, shot a final-round 4-over 76 and finished the three-day tournament at 6 over on the 5,900-yard course, which had enjoyed overnight rain that allowed the players to shoot for the pins more.
No one took advantage more than runner-up Sarah Frazier, who plays for the University of Dayton, and posted a 69 – the best score of the tournament and her career low at Autumn Ridge.
“It got a lot softer, which helped a lot of tee shots which had been just rolling and rolling, and you didn't know where they were going to go. Today, they just rolled a perfect amount and it was a lot better out there,” said Frazier, who was in the next-to-last group and finished at 7 over for her second runner-up finish in the Fort Wayne Women's Golf Association Event.
Simone Senk and Morgan Dabagia tied for third at 10-over 226, after Senk shot a closing-round 70 and Dabagia a 73.
Madison Dabagia, who carded a 77, placed fifth at 14-over 230. And Michelle Smith turned in a 75 to take sixth place at 21-over 237.
“It's golf, so you never know what can happen,” said Frazier, who came in to the day in fourth place, eight strokes back of Stinson. “Deep down, I knew I had a chance if I just played my best. I gave it my all and got close.”
Frazier's 3-under 33 on the front nine got her within five strokes. The margin got down to three after Stinson bogeyed No. 10 and double-bogeyed No. 11, and Frazier's birdie on the par-5 12th set things up for the exciting finish.
“A lot of it was mental. I told my dad and my caddie today that I was going to go out there and be confident, commit to every shot, and that's what I did and it was a lot better,” said Frazier, whose father, Tim, is the head professional at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.
Stinson, a local Realtor, said the turning point came after she sent her tee shot into the water on the par-3 11th; she needed to overcome the ensuing double-bogey and did so by parring the 12th.
“I was like, 'OK, we need to settle down here,' ” Stinson said. “Thankfully, I made a really good putt on 12 to save par and then I just had some really good putts. I was really committed and really felt the speed out here this week.”
Stinson credited many of her instructors through the years, including Quinn Griffing and Rick Hemsoth, and also her 93-year-old neighbor, Marcie Hensel, who is a “calming influence” when they talk golf – as they did before Sunday's round.
While Pat Wright's record nine city championships had seemed insurmountable since her last one in 1969, Stinson has led wire-to-wire in back-to-back City Tournaments, holding off a bevy of college and high school players.
“She's a great player. She always has been,” Frazier said. “It's nice to see that the game, you can play it at any age and just keep going. She's a lot of fun to play with. She's so nice, so I'm really happy for her.”
Stinson joined Wright, Pat McGary, Jean Saint and Smith as five-time winners.
“I feel like I'm just getting back in my groove here,” said Stinson, who had won her first three tournaments in 1988, 1989 and 1991. “I feel great. I'm getting stronger and working it through, so we'll see what happens.”
At Autumn Ridge Golf Club
Par: 72; Yardage: 5,900
Lori Stinson 74-72-76–222 (+6)
Sarah Frazier 78-76-69–223 (+7)
Simone Senk 79-77-70–226 (+10)
Morgan Dabagia 76-77-73–226 (+10)
Madison Dabagia 77-76-77–230 (+14)
Michelle Smith 86-76-75–237 (+21)