VASSALBORO – Kristin Kannegieser caught glimpses of her kids as they darted in and out of trees. She saw her family following her.
Beside her, playing partner and mentor Pennie Cummings did her best to talk Kannegieser through her round of golf. It’s just another round of golf, Cummings told her. Relax.
In her own mind, Kannegieser warded off thoughts of last year – of collapse.
“Last year, I blew up in the last round, and that’s all I didn’t want to do here,” Kannegieser said. “I wanted to keep moving the ball forward and keep hitting good shots.”
On the 18th hole, with water short left, Kannegieser smoked a Baffle club long of the green, onto the back fringe. Hardly a good shot, but it was safe.
“On a normal day I would have hit a 4-iron,” Kannegieser said. “I just wanted to make sure I got it here and over the water.”
Three putts later, Kannegieser walked across the green as her kids ran at her from the other direction. After a close call last year, and after several years near the top of the leaderboard, Kannegieser prevailed at the Maine Women’s Amateur Championship at Natanis Golf Club’s Tomahawk course Wednesday, carding a steady 77 to finish at 17-over-par 233.
“Are you sure I (won)?” Kannegieser questioned. “I still really can’t believe it. We’re making all this fuss and then somebody else is going to win. I’m thrilled; I just never, ever, ever expected it.”
Kannegieser, who plays out of Martindale Country Club of Auburn, has finished as high as fifth in the tournament (Sugarloaf, 2003). Last year, playing among the leaders, Kannegieser spiraled to a final-round 90.
Though she struggled later Wednesday, too, with four bogeys in a row to finish, she was never in danger of losing her lead, which at one point was seven strokes over Leslie Guenther and Micki Meggison.
“I just a bit tight there at the end. I just couldn’t get in quick enough,” Kannegieser said.
As her fellow competitors sputtered around her, Kannegieser held it together. She finished the front nine in 2-over-par 38, and then rattled off two birdies on the 10th and 11th holes to get it back to even par.
Meggison also finished the front nine at 2-over, but bogeyed the 11th and double-bogeyed the 13th. Julie Treadwell turned in 39, but triple bogeys on the 10th and 12th holes dropped her from contention. And Cummings, the defending champion and perennial favorite, suffered double bogeys on the eighth and 10th holes.
“If I made pars, and somebody, like past year, made birdies and came from behind, then great, that would be OK with me,” Kannegieser. “But it didn’t happen.”
The course itself played a bit tougher than it had Tuesday, in part because of some difficult hole locations.
“The pin placements were very challenging today, and my putting wasn’t particularly good, so that added a little bit to my dilemma,” Cummings said. “They were challenging, but they should be on a third day.”
Guenther hit one of the more fortunate shots of the day on her final hole. After a perfect drive, Guenther sent a low liner toward the green. The ball skipped three times off the top of the pond in front of the green and hopped up onto the putting surface.
“I’ve done it before, but I didn’t do that intentionally,” Guenther laughed. “It was the best drive I’d hit all week. It was perfect. I only had 120 yards to the green, and I was like, ‘This is an easy final shot.’ I was wrong, but I’d had some bad luck today so it was nice to have some good luck.”
Guenther finished in a tie for second with Meggison, six shots back of Kannegieser at 23-over par for the three days. Laurie Hyndman had fourth to herself after a three-day total of 240, and Cummings and Treadwell shared fifth with a combined score of 244.