Singles matches in a match-play format are some of the most intense and pressured golf there is – a one-on-one battle for up to 18 holes, with each hole more important than the last. Twelve singles matches took place on Friday morning on Day 2 of the 54th Junior Girls’ Four-State Championship hosted by the Iowa Golf Association at Elmwood Country Club.
Marshalltown grad Amber Henson said her match against Missouri’s Ella Overstreet was tough because of the difference in mentality when she was trailing or leading.
“For the most part we were playing pretty safe and going pars,” Henson said. “When you’re behind you try to be aggressive to catch up and when I was up front I was trying to play it safe and make a bunch of pars.
“It’s a lot of fun because I think it’s more of a team aspect. Even in the team events you are playing against your team mates for the individual title somehow [in stroke play].”
Henson picked up a 2 and 1 win over Overstreet to claim his first win of the week and finish the championship with a 1-1-1 record. She was one of three Iowa players to win singles matches.
Early Friday, Henson missed a few short putts and found herself 1-down on two holes and 1-down on six. Needing to catch up and become more aggressive to keep up, the pars on the seventh and eighth holes gave Henson a 1 lead – a lead she would not relinquish.
Once she got into the lead, Henson said she started to feel confident with the short putts and started playing more conservatively.
A birdie at 11 after draining a 15-foot putt gave her a 2 lead and gave Henson the cushion she was looking for.
The next six holes of golf went error-free. Henson hit every green in regulation on holes 12-17 and made six straight pars, matching Overstreet hole-for-hole.
With a two-foot putt on the 17th, Henson ended the game and gave Iowa their second game victory of the day.
“I was really hoping to win this game, so I’m glad I did,” Henson said. “I had a lot more confidence with all of my shots and with my putting, I felt a lot more confident on my back nine.”
This likely won’t be the last time Henson plays with or against Overstreet in the next four years, as the pair are both set to play in the Missouri Valley Conference for college golf (Henson at Drake, Overstreet in South Illinois).
Nebraska won the tag team title for the Ryder-Cup-style event, racking up 9 1/2 points overall and winning four games on Friday. Missouri finished one point behind with 8 1/2 points and won four of its six games. Iowa finished third with 3 1/2 points after winning half of its games – Henson over Overstreet, Katelyn Vaassen 2&1 over Lois Deeter of Kansas and Erika Holmberg’s win over Julia Karmazin of Nebraska. Kansas had 2 1/2 points.
The rest of the summer is shaping up with a few more tournaments for Henson before he arrives at Drake. She will compete in the Iowa Junior PGA Championship in hopes of qualifying for the National Junior PGA Women’s Championship, as well as the Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship in Cedar Rapids in July.
She hopes to make an impact as soon as she can with the Bulldogs.
“I’ve been playing pretty well recently, so it really motivates me to improve,” Henson said.