BIRMINGHAM, AL (June 22, 2012) -- It’s been said before, but they really ought to name the trophy after her.
Of course, I’m referring to Kathy Hartwiger, who won the Women’s State Amateur Championship Friday for a record tenth time, breaking her own record.
Hartwiger has also won the title in 2011, 2010, 2007, 06, 05, 04, 03, 02 and 1999. She also won the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and has long been a top competitive golfer.
This title was a little different though for Hartwiger, who defeated Alison Hovatter of Meridianville by a score of 2 and 1, as it occurred over her home course (Hoover Country Club) and after she started back at work last fall (as a middle school guidance counselor) after being a stay-at-home mom for a number of years.
“I was nervous all match and never really settled down,” Hartwiger said. “I thought it might be because of playing at home, but that wasn’t the case as truthfully knowing the course really helped me.
“I just had trouble getting settled.”
There were several key moments in an up-and-down match that only saw three holes tied. Both players had multiple three-putts as they struggled with the speed of the immaculate greens.
However, Hartwiger made several key putts, including one for a two on No. 12 and then a 12 footer for par on No. 16 to go 2 up. She would close the match out on the next green with a short putt for par.
“It’s so rewarding to win on my home course. The membership here are very supportive of me and my family. I could feel them (the numerous watching members) willing some putts into the hole.”
Hovatter came into this week’s 80th Women’s State Amateur Championship with low expectations due to injury.
“I broke my arm February 20 and wasn’t sure if I would ever play again. It was a freak accident in the weight room at Ole Miss (where she will be a sophomore and in her first year of eligibility on the golf team).”
She started hitting shots in late May and has only played three or four times since then, so her strong play this week has surprised her a little.
She was All-State all four years at Hazel Green High School and this Meridianville native won two SJGT events in her junior career.
She bulldozed her way through the field shooting 72 to lead the stroke play seeding, followed by wins of 5 and 4 in the round of 16 over Taylor Appleyard and Lucie King in the quarter-finals. In Thursday’s semi-final she beat Piedmont’s Erin Gunnels by 6 and 5 in another dominating performance that included five birdies.
She has now lost in the semi-finals to Hartwiger last year and the final this year, so maybe next year will be the charm?
She never led in the match, but did pull it back to all square on three different occasions.
“I was timid on too many putts and did not stay in my process. Instead of rolling the putts I was trying to make birdies happen.
“Playing against Kathy, I felt like I’d have to play my absolute best. I embrace that and it was awesome. I just had too many putts lip out.”
Hoover Country Club now counts amongst its membership the reigning State Amateur champion Andy McRae; reigning State Senior champion Tom Jungkind; Women’s State Amateur champion Hartwiger; and BGA Metro Amateur champions Will Swift and Woodie Eubanks and runners up McRae and Max McClain.
Plus Michael Thompson, who finished runner-up in last week’s U.S. Open, is a member.