MICHIGAN WOMEN’S OPEN – Lexi Harkins Leads Into Final Round
CRYSTAL CLEAR: Crystal Lake (Ill.) Golfer Leads Michigan Women’s Open at Crystal Mountain
THOMPSONVILLE – Lexi Harkins of Crystal Lake, Ill., playing in just her second professional tournament, is clear of the field by five shots heading into the final round of the 25th Michigan Women’s Open Championship at Crystal Mountain Resort.
The 22-year-old recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin shot a 7-under 65 on the Mountain Ridge course Tuesday to check in at 11-under 133 through two rounds of the 54-hole championship.
“I’m really happy about it, and excited,” she said. “I mean, this is what we always dream of doing. I didn’t necessarily see this coming, but I played well yesterday and I felt good today so I just kept it going.”
Recent Michigan State graduate Sarah Burnham, likewise a new professional and winner of the recent Connecticut Women’s Open, shot a second consecutive 69 for 6-under and a tie for second with 70-shooting Marissa Chow, a Symetra Tour player from Honolulu who finished second here a year ago.
Liz Nagel of DeWitt, a Symetra Tour player who led after the first round, shot 72 for 139, six shots back, and was the low player from the state of Michigan in fourth place.
“I just didn’t put well,” she said. “The greens were faster than the first round when I was comfortable, and I never got the speed right today.”
Laura Kueny, the 2011 champion from Whitehall, also shot 72 and was at 140, seven shots off the lead.
The 36-hole cut fell at 13-over 157 and 71 players moved on to the final round in the $40,000, 54-hole championship. The winner, if a professional, will take home a check of $6,000 in the tournament sponsored by Crystal Mountain and Coke. The final group will tee off at 9:39 a.m. Wednesday. The public is welcome.
Harkins said she can’t remember the last time she had the lead heading into the final round of a tournament. Seconds were here best finish in four years of college golf, including the first three years at North Carolina and her senior year at Wisconsin.
“I don’t know what to expect,” she said. “I just want to keep the confidence level the same. The last two days have been great, so there is no reason to change.”
Harkins powered her bogey-free round with five birdies and an eagle-3 at the par 5 No. 6 hole via holing out a 65-yard shot with her 60-degree wedge.
“It was going right at the pin and I saw it disappear,” she said. “I didn’t know it went in, but then I heard everybody cheering. It was cool. I can’t remember the last time I did that.”
Harkins last win was the 2014 Illinois Women’s Amateur Championship just after she graduated from high school. Her college experience included being a regular in the North Carolina and Wisconsin lineups for four years, and playing in the NCAA Championships.
“I’ve played well in big tournaments,” she said. “I just didn’t get any wins.”
She entered the Michigan Open when she heard from other young pros that the Michigan Women’s Open had a strong field that included Symetra Tour players.
“I played in the Symetra Tour event in Decatur (Ill.) and just want to play against good players this summer,” she said. “Everybody said this one always has a good field and that it’s a good tournament.”
SCORES: Available via the quick link at michiganpgagolf.com
ATTACHED: An action photo of Lexi Harkins from Tuesday’s play