“It wasn’t easy,” Whitehead said, a wide smile spread across her face. “I hate playing in this weather. I don’t play in it unless I have to, and I had to today. This feels great. I don’t expect it. I just try to play my best.”
On No. 17, with the pair all squared up, Hansen opened the door when she chunked her sand wedge into the bunker. She failed to get up-and-down from there, and Whitehead took advantage, two-putting for par to take a one-hole lead into No. 18.
The savvy veteran then split the fairway with her drive on the closing hole. Hansen, knowing she needed something spectacular to extend the match, sent her drive to the right and wasn’t able to reach the green on her second shot.
Whitehead calmly spun her second shot pin-high, and after Hansen chipped on and missed her par putt, Whitehead’s quest for a Spring Lake Invitational repeat was complete. The large gathering of spectators cheered animatedly for a few moments before fleeing back into the clubhouse to escape the driving rain and chilling wind that marred the final day of the tournament.
“I had a little crowd, and I had the edge because most of the people here are my age,” joked Whitehead, who said she’s “pushing 60.”
“I’ve known them for years. I’ve played in this probably 30 years. I started coming in the late 70s.”
Whitehead won the opening hole of the Championship Flight, then Hansen, a junior-to-be at the University of Detroit, evened the match on No. 3 and took a 1-up lead on No. 5. Whitehead was scrambling to keep it close until she could solve her swing.
“I started swinging too fast, and I wasn’t hitting the ball very well,” she said. “Then I got into a swing thought on No. 6 or 7 that was way better, and the ball started going. The first five holes, I didn’t play that good, but I was only one down.”
The match went back to even when Hansen lipped out a short putt on No. 8. The former Buccaneer had a great chance to reclaim the lead on No. 10 when she hit her second shot from nearly 100 yards out to within inches of the cup, but Whitehead answered the call by dropping a long breaking downhill putt to halve the hole.
“My putter saved me on a few holes, especially No. 10,” Whitehead said. “I had a couple good putts, then her putter left her.”
Whitehead went 1-up when Hansen again missed a makeable putt on No. 14. Hansen bounced back when Whitehead 3-putted the 16th green, leaving the match all square going into 17.
“I was doing OK on the front nine, but on the back my putting was just awful,” Hansen said. “I was killing them past the hole.
“Then I fell apart on 17 and 18.”
Her biggest mistake came on No. 17. Sitting within 50 yards of the green after two swings, she faced a shot over a greenside bunker to a pin tucked tight up against the same bunker.
“I was going to hit a lob wedge, but I said, ‘Be smart, go up a club to a sand wedge,’” Hansen said. “So I thought I was being smart, but I chunked it.”
Whitehead, a former teacher and coach at Hillsdale High School, felt her years of experience in competitive golf may have given her the edge in an otherwise very close match.
“(Collette’s) got a good, solid game, and she’s confident,” Whitehead said. “It’s all there, she just maybe needs some more experience.”
Sue Campbell won the First Flight championship with a 4 and 3 win over Carol Elias. In the Second Flight, Fran Upton edged Sherrie Glas, 2 and 1, while Deb Rogers won 1 up over Diane Kiino in the Third Flight championship.
Judy DeHaven scored a 1 up win over Dottie Blue in the Fourth Flight; Jan Bowerman edged Paula Porter, 2 and 1, in the Fifth Flight; Jeanne Ryskamp won 4 and 3 over Anne Smith in the Sixth Flight; Corinne Johnson took the Seventh Flight with a 5 and 4 win over Dawn Theiler; Ann Bates was the Eighth Flight champion after a 5 and 4 win over Suzanne Reinhold; and Nancy Hopkins won the Ninth Flight with a 4 and 2 win over Rose Crew.