ROCK FALLS – Ember Schuldt had a picture-perfect ending to the 91st annual Women’s Lincoln Highway golf tournament Saturday at Rock River Golf and Pool.
After she won the individual title for the eighth consecutive time, she posed for a host of pictures, including one with her father, Don; mother, Lou Ann; and brother, Frank. Don caddied for his daughter Friday, and Frank lugged the clubs Saturday.
“Every year, I look forward to coming back to this tournament to see the ladies I grew up playing with and to see the friends I’ve made over the years,” said the 21-year-old Schuldt, who first played in the event at 13. “It is a fun and relaxing tournament, and I enjoy playing in it.”
Schuldt finished with a best against bogey score of +34 in the 36-hole event, six more than runner-up Connie Ellett of Kishwaukee and seven more than Emerald Hill teammate Megan Vandersee.
Two more Kishwaukee players, Taylor Ellett and Bobbie Cesarek, finished at +23.
“I’ve played a lot of junior golf with the Elletts, and Megan is my best friend,” said Schuldt of the final foursome, “so it was a pretty special day for me.”
Vandersee is a recent graduate of Augustana College, and was the MVP of the Vikings’ women’s golf team.
She was thrilled to tee it up with Schuldt, a senior at Illinois, and the Ellett sisters, who both play golf at Northern Illinois.
“It was really fun seeing how I can stack up against some D-I talent, being a graduated D-III player,” Vandersee said. “I don’t get to see that very often, so that was really cool to see I could hold my own against them.”
Schuldt carded rounds of 68 and 67 at Rock River Golf and Pool, just off her personal best score of 66 there.
“I just hit smart shots – a lot of placement shots out here,” Schuldt said. “The course is a little short and a little tight, especially on the front nine, so just making smart choices and not going for stuff I didn’t need to go for, that was the key.”
Emerald Hill placed second as a team with a best against bogey score of +92, one more than the host team. Kishwaukee won its fourth consecutive team title with a score of +124.
Ruth Heal, who guessed she has played in the tournament about 45 times, noted one of the keys to the Kishwaukee’s success is it welcomes some new blood each year – and they know what is expected of them.
“They don’t want to be the ones to be on the team that loses,” Heal said, “so it’s exciting for them to play on a team that wins.”
This year, it was the Ellett sisters who got their first taste of the Lincoln Highway. Taylor is a junior at NIU, while Connie is a sophomore.
“Ruth let us know it was go time,” Connie Ellett said. “We made sure to do our jobs.”
Deena Thatcher (+21), Nancy Kreeger (+18), Jessica Stickel (+15), Mary Amsbaugh (+15) and Patti Simester (+13) led the way for Rock River.
Patty Head (+16) and Kristie Pultorak (+15) paced Timber Creek, which was fourth at +41.
Top 3 teams
1. Kishwaukee +124
2. Emerald Hill +92
3. Rock River +91
Ember Schuldt (EH) +34