LAKEVILLE, MN (August 24, 2016) -- Prior to beginning her junior year at Wayzata High School in 2012, Sarah Burnham outlasted New Prague’s Kenzie Neisen in a three-hole playoff to win the Minnesota Women’s State Amateur Championship at Mendakota Country Club.
In both 2013 and 2014 Burnham tied for third before missing last year’s championship to compete in the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship in Saskatchewan, Canada, and finished tied for third.
On Friday Burnham will head back to East Lansing, Mich., where she will begin her junior season at Michigan State University, and because history has a way of repeating itself, Burnham cruised to an eight-stroke victory at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club to collect her second Women’s State Amateur title.
“I played solid today—I didn’t have many mistakes so I was really happy with that,” Burnham said following her victory Wednesday. “I played the front nine really well this week; I think I was 5-under and then the back side kind of got me.
“This definitely gives me confidence going into the season and I’m hoping I can continue to get better. I still feel like there were some shots out there that I could’ve hit better, so working on that to get ready for the season will definitely help.”
Burnham’s near-perfect round of 69 Wednesday marked just the second round below par at the 54-hole event next to the University of Minnesota’s Heather Ciskowski’s second-round 69 Wednesday.
Setting the tone early during the final round Wednesday, Burnham’s approach on the opening hole found the back edge, but she would chip in from 25 feet for birdie to increase her lead over Ciskowski to two.
Sinking a 10-footer for par at the fifth, Burnham maintained her two-shot advantage before increasing it to three following a key up-and-down for par at the sixth.
After sticking her approach to six feet and rolling in her birdie chance, Burnham’s lead grew to five shots following a double-bogey by Ciskowski. Her lead increased further at the 10th when Ciskowski’s tee shot found the hazard left of the fairway.
In complete control of her round and the championship, Burnham rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 12th to increase her lead to 10 before her lone blemish at 16, where she failed to get up-and-down from left of the green at the par-3.
Finding the front of the final green with her approach, Burnham made a simple two-putt to clinch her second Women’s State Amateur title in five years.
For the second time in her last five rounds, Burnham was able to avoid a big number on the scorecard as she made two double-bogeys and a triple-bogey during the Minnesota Women’s State Open a week ago at Indian Hills Golf Club.
Burnham opened the championship with a 2-over par 73 Monday despite a string of four bogeys in a span of six holes. During her second round Tuesday, Burnham took a double-bogey on the final hole to shoot 71 and watched what would’ve been a comfortable lead, shrink to just one before the final round.
“I prefer to play with the lead to have an advantage on someone,” she said. “I would’ve liked to have had a bigger lead, but the pressure was still on today.
“What was going through my mind was not blading or chunking my wedges, which happed the last two days—it happened once or twice today, too, but I was able to recover.”
Gopher golfer Emie Peronnin carded a 73 Wednesday to finish in second place at 7-over par 220, eight shots behind Burnham.
Peronnin, of Frejus, France, began the final round four shots off Burnham’s lead and started slow with a pair of bogeys over the first three holes to fall to 7-over for the tournament. She would roll in her long birdie putt from the front edge at the par-4 fourth, but would turn at 7-over following a bogey at the eighth.
A double-bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 12th put Peronnin at 10-over for the championship, but she battled back with three consecutive birdies beginning at the par-4 15th to shoot 73 and finish in second place.
“I knew it was going to be a hard one to go in and get [Burnham],” Peronnin said Wednesday, “Then she chipped in on one and it was like ‘Hey, I’m going to be there guys.’ It was a tough round and I kind of lost myself after 12 and I knew if I wanted to get to second place I needed to make a couple birdies. I made three, so I was happy about it.
“I haven’t been practicing much this summer so I didn’t have too many expectations and I was surprised how good my game was. My driving and my putting were really good. For me it’s a nice confidence boost because I need to have a strong fall if I want to have a decent season. [The Minikahda Club] is a hard course to start the season on, but I’m really confident now, so it’s nice.”
Fellow Gopher Ciskowski’s 69 during Tuesday’s second round put her one stroke behind Burnham ahead of Wednesday’s final round, but a trio of double-bogeys led to a final-round 80 as Ciskowski finished in third place at 224.
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