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Champions reunion

Duncan MacLean • Jun 21, 2018 at 12:30 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — As a new crop of young competitors nears the final round of the 97th Spring Lake Invitational, familiar matchups are emerging.

Spring Lake High School’s illustrious golf history was on display Wednesday as four former players vied for flight finals appearances Tuesday, while the championship final will pit two NCAA standouts with an already competitive history against each other.

Anna Kramer, former Spring Lake state champion and current University of Indianapolis golfer, won the all-Hoosier semifinal, defeating Megan Skoog of Butler by a score of 2&1, meaning Kramer led by two points with one hole left to play, to earn a spot in the championship final.

On the other side of the championship flight, Sarah White defeated the lone non-NCAA semifinalist, 2005 Spring Lake Invitational champion Barb Schmid, in a quick 12 holes by a score of 7&6, meaning she led by seven points with six holes to play, to set up the reunion title match.

In the first-flight semifinals, former and future teammates Kayla Krueger and Madelyn Nelson faced off as members of multiple state championship teams at Spring Lake and future teammates at Valparaiso. Krueger won the match, 5&4, to earn a date with Joan Garety in the finals.

Indiana Stars

Kramer and Skoog proved Indy pride runs deep as they locked in for an endurance battle over a spot in the championship final, pitting a Butler Bulldog against a U-Indy Greyhound. The front nine ended in a wash as the pair hit the turn dead even after birdies on holes seven and eight for Skoog.

Kramer took control to kick off the back nine, but Skoog held on, capitalizing on a missed putt on hole 11 and a branch-laden tee shot on hole 14 by Kramer.

“I was three up early in the back nine, then I was just two up so I thought, ‘Just hold her off. Don’t do anything stupid until you can close her out.’”

After a three-hole lead through 13 holes, Kramer couldn’t finish the job until hole 17, where a greenside bunker for Skoog let Kramer shut the door.

“We both played really well. She especially did,” Kramer said. “She was making so many par putts to save holes. Coming into the turn even, you just think, ‘Just another nine.’ It was kind of an ‘Oh well’ front. I held it together and didn’t let her get away with it. So, I had to take on the back with a new attitude. It was a little frustrating not being able to close her out, but I’m glad she played well.

“It feels good to be in the finals; Sarah and I will have a good time. Hopefully, I can win this one.”

Generation challenge

Schmid had a tough job description in the semifinals; keep pace with three current NCAA golfers, 13 years after winning an Invitational title of her own.

White birdied four early holes, then finished off the rest of the abbreviated round at par with one bogey to go three-under through 12 holes to take the win.

“It is a lot of fun playing with those younger girls,” she said. “You get inspiration from how far they can hit the ball and their resilience on the course.

“Sometimes, experience can pay off over strength off the tee. Today, that wasn’t the case. I got killed,” she added with a smile.

“One always hopes that you can play up to your potential when you are playing against a really solid player. That was my goal today. I was disappointed in how I was hitting it off the tee, but I did hit a lot of putts this week. That was, unusually, the strength of my game the past couple of days.”

Junior Jamboree

The resulting finals matchup features collegiate competitors hailing from Indiana and Texas, but their origins are closer than expected. White graduated from East Kentwood High School, putting her in the same junior and high school golf circuit as Kramer.

“We grew up playing junior golf together, doing summer tournaments through high school and stuff,” Kramer said.

The two have even met in match play tournaments as amateurs.

“We played in a women’s amateur tournament here at Spring Lake Country Club,” White said. “I think it went to 19 holes. It is pretty evenly matched. Whenever we play, it comes down to the last two or three holes. It should be a good match.

“(Kramer) has pretty good wedges. When we played together in the qualifying round she was sticking those close.”

“(White) hits the ball really far,” Kramer said. “So, I have to watch out for that.”

Lady Lakers

Nelson and Krueger both fell just one shot shy of the championship flight in qualifying Monday but managed to enjoy themselves vying for a spot in the first flight finals Wednesday, reminiscing of their state title runs in high school and anticipating their reunion on Valparaiso’s roster in the fall as Nelson joins up for her freshman season.

“It was super fun playing together today,” Krueger said. “It was more fun than competitive. We both relaxed and enjoyed our time playing, had a few laughs and talked about playing together again in the fall.”

“I think it was easier to play each other because we know each other’s game so well,” Nelson said. “We found ourselves just chatting on the green a lot of the time.”

Kramer was also a member of the Lakers’ title run from 2015-2017, making the reunion tri-fold.

“It is nice seeing everybody again after another year away for them,” Nelson said.

“All my friends from school are down in Indy, so the only people I golf with up here are these two,” Kramer said. “If I want to play, I just call them up.

“People ask, ‘You won state, right?’ and to be able to say, ‘Yeah, three in a row’ casually is fun. Having that experience is nice on the course, too. You learn how to stay patient and assure yourself that the game will eventually come. Even on big stages, you just have to laugh things off sometimes.

“It’s fun to reminisce,” Krueger added.

Joining the Spring Lake standouts in flight finals are:

Champ flight: Kramer vs. White

First flight: Krueger vs. Garety

Second flight: Pam Tyler vs. Cindy Obermeyer

Third flight: Suzanne France vs. Margaret Nault

Fourth flight: Kim Noe vs. Olivia Bayagich

Fifth flight: Suzanne Reinhold vs. Doree Hall

Sixth flight: Carolyn Byl vs. Suzanne Madej

Seventh flight: Linda Root vs. Joy Defranco

Eighth flight: Linda Dane vs. Kate Clark

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