Boulder’s Kelsey Webster stays on a roll, fending off defending champion Leigha Devine for the CGA Women’s Stroke Play title; Erin Houtsma wins Women’s Mid-Am for the second time, this one on her home course
By Gary Baines – 07/07/2022
For a player who had plenty of near misses earlier in her golfing career, Kelsey Webster finds the conclusion of the case very satisfying in recent months.
Early last month, the 22-year-old Boulder Country Club player took top honors as a weak amateur at the Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open – and finished sixth overall in a field that included many accomplished professional golfers.
Then on Thursday, Webster added another feather to her hat by winning a state championship, specifically the 75th CGA Women’s Stroke Play at Colorado National Golf Club in Erie. In doing so, his name will join those on the trophy, including such luminaries as Jennifer Kupcho, Lauren Howe and Barbara McIntire, as well as many other members of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
“So far so good this summer,” said Webster, who transferred from the University of Colorado to Oregon State before last season. “It feels really good. It says a lot that I decided to change schools and went to a school where I knew the coaches (including Colorado native Dawn Shockley) were going to help me. help. Obviously it shows coming back here this summer. It’s fun to start playing with the potential that I always knew I had.”
In Thursday’s win, Webster fended off a challenge from defending champion Leigha Devine of Ptarmigan Country Club, who was looking to become the first player since the late 1980s to win four consecutive CGA Women’s Major Championships.
Devine was 1 over par in two rounds and trailed Webster by four strokes, but in 15 holes Thursday she had birdied six and a bogey and was 4 under par overall, tied for the lead with Webster. Devine, who plays golf from college at Rutgers, had played well going into contention, but her flat club let her down on the final two holes. She missed a 3-foot birdie try on the par-4 17 and a par-4-foot attempt on the 18.
At the end of the day, she finished a backstroke from Webster.
“It’s tough. It’s a really deep cut, but it happens,” said Devine, who competed at the US Women’s Open last year and qualified for this year’s US Women’s Amateur. “Two shots in the last two holes, but that’s golf. I did what I could do. It’s a growing learning opportunity. Next time I won’t miss it.”
“The putter was good (today overall). Obviously I made six birdies, so it has to work a bit to be able to do that.
Webster had three birdies and two bogeys over 13 holes, then parried the final six — including an 8-of-16 — to claim his first CGA Championship victory. Over the past two and a half months, in addition to her low am at the Colorado Women’s Open and Thursday’s win, she has placed fifth in the Pac-12 Conference Women’s Tournament.
Webster, who is no stranger to the Colorado National as it is the home course for CU golf teams and she spent three seasons with the Buffs, went 69-72-71 for a total of 212 under the normal. It was her third top six finish at the CGA Women’s Stroke Play since 2019. Last year, she finished fourth in the event at her local Boulder Country Club course.
“It feels really good,” she said. “I certainly participated in many of them. I failed last year playing in the final group, so it feels good to finally have one under my belt.
In total for the week, Webster posted 12 birdies, six bogeys and a double bogey. On the final hole Thursday, with a one-shot lead, she inadvertently flirted with trouble by hitting a driver off the tee. The ball fell short of the water facing the green on the 18th hole, but not by much. But it was an “all’s well that ends well” for Webster as she stalled from 15 feet and made a routine par for the one-shot victory.
“Thinking back, I probably shouldn’t have hit the driver,” she said with a smile. “I was very precise with my driver all week and it’s the club I felt most comfortable with under this type of pressure. I didn’t take adrenaline into account, I think. , and I smashed it. It rolled perfectly there. It’s one of those where you walk the fairway, you think, ‘Where is that, where is that?’ Looking back, good to know now, I probably should have hit 3 wood, but I’m glad I got away with it.
Devine closed with a Thursday best of 68 to finish second at 3 under 213. CU golfer Hailey Schalk, playing her home round, finished third at 214 with American women’s amateur qualifier Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Country Club. Schalk shot 70 on Thursday and Hillary 72.
As for Devine, she remembers with emotion the last four major women’s CGA competitions since she has three victories and a second place.
“It’s been an incredible two summers for me for the Colorado Match and Stroke Play,” the 21-year-old said. “Maybe I’ll be back next year – we’ll see what happens – but I’m happy to be here. These tournaments are great.
“I’m proud of my game today, that’s for sure. It is always easier to sue than to be sued. So I knew that I had a little less pressure during the day. I could do what I could and see how the cookie crumbled. It didn’t happen to me. I missed a few shots there, but we can still say that. I’m happy with my game and the way it’s going.
Meanwhile, while many of the top competitors in this CGA Women’s Stroke Play aspire to turn pro, Webster doesn’t fall into that category. She will play her final season of college golf at Oregon State in 2022-23, then plans to retire from competition, hoping to enter the coaching scene.
“That’s the plan unless something lines up perfectly or something crazy happens,” she said. “I will be very happy to step back from competitive golf next year. I hope to start coaching.
Webster has dabbled in golf before, as in recent summers she has worked on Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado related events with the PGA of Colorado and alongside the CGA.
In fact, that networking was somewhat apparent this week in the Women’s Stroke Play as CGA staffer Brent Vasa caddyed for Webster in the first round and PGA of Colorado staffer Scott Minta , in rounds 2 and 3.
“I’m grateful they were able to help me stay calm,” Webster said. “Scott was very good at keeping me calm.”
Erin Houtsma easily claims another Mid-Am title: The third annual CGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Stroke Play was held at Colorado National concurrently with the Open Age Women’s Stroke Play. The Mid-Am title, limited to players 25 and older, went to former CU golfer Erin Houtsma for the second time in three years.
After winning the event by eight strokes in 2020, Houtsma prevailed by 10 this time around.
“It’s awesome,” said Houtsma, a reinstated amateur who won the 2005 Colorado Women’s Open. really wasn’t about winning or losing, it was about staying in the process. We made it more of a test of my mental toughness for three days. I knew if I played well enough I would have a lead, so the mental side becomes much more important, and we talked a lot about that over the three days.
The result was a 3-under par for 54 holes as Houtsma went 5-under the last two days. Houtsma’s three-day total over par was seven better than when he won in 2020 at the Ranch Country Club.
Part of the difference may be that the Colorado National has long been 42-year-old Houtsma’s home course, although she resides in Denver. She estimates to have played hundreds of games in the establishment.
That showed this week as Houstma shot rounds of 74-70-69 and had just three worse-than-par hole scores (two bogeys and a double bogey) for the week. She sprinkled seven birdies.
“I feel so comfortable here,” she said.
Houtsma, who played twice in singles at the US Women’s Mid-Amateur, particularly praised Wednesday’s 70, even though she shot even lower on Thursday.
“Yesterday was probably one of my five best tournament ball hitting rounds I’ve ever had,” she said. “I hit the ball so well. I don’t think I missed a fairway, I hit so many greens. I just hit it so well – and I was so close to the hole so many times and I I had so many chances.
“I shot 70 and that’s the worst I could have shot.”
This week marked the third time the women’s mid-am stroke game was decided by wide margins. Besides Houtsma winning by eight and 10 strokes, 2021 champion Kris Franklin prevailed by 15.
Houtsma now has three CGA Championship titles under her belt – two Mid-Am Stroke Plays and a Brassie Team title with Schalk.
Part-time Gunnison resident Marilyn Hardy was second on Thursday among the Mid-Ams, the 2020 CGA Women’s Senior Stroke Play winner, who came in at 7 over par 223 after a 74 final. Hall of Fame Colorado golf Kim Eaton was third at 232.
In flight divisions, Melissa Cooke of Murphy Creek Golf Course took the raw title by one (81-83-77-241), while Alison O’Connor of Collindale Golf Course (67-74-77—218) and junior CGA member Ella Neuhauser (72-72-74–218) tied for net honors.
For all CGA Women’s Stroke Play and Mid-Amateur Women’s Stroke Play scores, CLICK HERE.