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Closing birdies lead Hargens to Iowa Women's Am title
Sierra Hargens (Iowa Golf Association photo)
Sierra Hargens (Iowa Golf Association photo)

By Rick Brown

BURLINGTON, Iowa (July 21, 2018) – In the face of self-imposed adversity Saturday, Sierra Hargens finished like a champion.

Hargens, 19, opened the door with a double bogey on Spirit Hollow’s 16th hole, but rebounded with a pair of closing birdies to win the 94th Iowa Women’s Amateur by four shots.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Hargens, a junior-to-be at Indiana State, said after a final-round 76 and a three-day total of 228.

Emily Snelling of Clear Lake, playing in the second-to-last group, closed with a 76 and finished second at 232. Hannah Bermel of Cedar Falls, who started the final round one shot behind Hargens, closed with an 81 to finish third at 234.

Hargens went to the par-4 16th hole with a three-shot lead over Bermel, whose 71 in the first round was the lowest score posted for the championship. But Hargens had no idea how big her lead really was.

“I knew I was playing pretty well,” Hargens said. “I thought maybe I had a one-shot lead because that’s what I started with. But I didn’t know.”

In the first two rounds, Hargens hit perfect drives but bladed her second shot over the green at No. 16 both times.

“Today I said to myself, “I’m not going to blade it this time,’” Sierra said.

She overcompensated, hitting her second shot fat and into a fairway bunker.

“I had a pretty gnarly lie in that bunker,” Hargens said.

Standing with one foot in the bunker and the other foot out, she hit her third shot heavy and then left her approach short of the green.

Staring disaster in the face, she got up and down for a double-bogey 6. The damage was minimal when Bermel three-putted for bogey.

“Managing to salvage a double bogey calmed me down,” Sierra said.

She took matters into her own hands over the final two holes. A pair of good drives left her with one of her favorite clubs, her 54-degree wedge, in her hands. Hargens hit it to 5 feet on No. 17 and 2 feet on No. 18 to add her name to the distinguished and time-tested Iowa Women’s Amateur trophy.

Hargens took to golf at a late age. She played softball growing up, starting at 7 years of age. She was on the varsity team at Cedar Rapids Kennedy as a freshman, seeing most of her action at third base.

A year later, she had dropped softball and was playing varsity golf at Kennedy.

“I always played softball,” Hargens said. “But I didn’t really like it anymore. My dad (Scott) had always been a golfer. He’d say, “Come out and golf.’ I’d say, “No, I hate it.’ But I finally did and I was pretty good at it. So I kept on going with it.”

Sierra said that softball still makes a mess of her golf swing on occasion.

“It’s been tough to switch from softball to golf,” said Hargens, who turns 20 next month. “I’ve always struggled with quick hips. Sometimes I miss it left, right, who knows where. But I can hit it far. That saved me a lot of times out there.”

Her short game was another savior at Spirit Hollow. Hargens has spent a lot of time in the past year at Indiana State working on that short game.

“I didn’t hit the ball very well the first or second day, but I got up-and-down from everywhere,” she said.

Hargens said that over the course of her brief golf career, she usually bounces back from adversity in a positive manner. On Saturday, that double bogey was followed by pair of birdies.

“Take it one shot at a time, and things should work out,” Sierra said.

It did on Saturday, when she responded to adversity with a pair of radar approaches to the 17th and 18th pins. Thanks to that deadly 54-degree wedge.



ABOUT THE Iowa Women's Amateur

Open to female amateur golfers who maintain a residence in the state of Iowa and are members of the Iowa Golf Association. 54-hole stroke play event with two divisions: a Championship Division which will not be flighted and an Open Division which will be flighted after the second round. There are 60 guaranteed spots in each division.

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