PROPHETSTOWN – If there was any speculation as to who the favorite was to win the 95th Women’s Lincoln Highway Tournament, the ladies from Timber Creek made their claim at a repeat in dominating fashion.
Timber Creek shot a +64 to start the tournament, and holds a +30 lead in the best-against-bogey event over second-place Kishwaukee.
It’s easy to see why the ladies of Dixon’s course are out in front by so much. The four best scores Friday hailed from Timber Creek, with Mandy Curia leading the way at +13. Mimi Boysen follows at +12, and Alina Llanas and Krista Niezwaag are knotted at +11.
Plus, there wasn’t a big drop-off after the top four for Timber Creek. Olivia Pultorak shot a +9, Patty Head fired a +8, Kristie Pultorak carded a +3, and Nikki Masini limited damage with a -1.
Timber Creek was +41 on the front nine, and saw its lead balloon to +21 at the turn, with Curia leading with a front nine of +8. The only hole she didn’t have a plus on was No. 2. Her game was the steadiest among the field, as she didn’t card a minus all day.
“I played to the format,” Curia said. “I didn’t focus on trying to shoot a low score. It was about getting as many points as I could.”
Llanas and Olivia Pultorak were +7 at the turn. Llanas birdied the first hole of the day, and despite some bumps on the back, relied on her brother Mack on the bag to keep her on the right track.
“The front nine was pretty solid,” Llanas said. “Everything was working. The back nine I struggled a bit, but my brother kept me calm, cool and collected.”
For Boysen, it was nearly an all-time best round. Her 38 on the front put her at +6, and with 41 on the back, she finished with the low round of the day at 79. She couldn’t topple her career best of 77 shot at her home course, but this performance in front of plenty of peers is what made her round most enjoyable.
“I had a lot of support,” Boysen said. “Our club owner was here. Longtime members were here. My husband was my caddie.”
At 63 years young, Boysen is the self-described grandma of the Timber Creek team. She showed her savvy with the best closing numbers of anybody, carding six pluses in a row to end her day.
“I had some lucky bounces, but I chipped and putted well,” Boysen said. “It’s nice to be with these young kids. I was happy to make the team, and really happy to contribute.”
Timber Creek’s domination was thorough in almost every facet of the competition. They had five of the 11 true birdies. Boysen birdied Nos. 5 and 9, while Niezwaag birdied Nos. 6 and 10.
Three players from Sunset’s squad had birdies. Abi and Ali Scheidecker had one each, and Colleen Miller added one on No. 13. Abi Scheidecker led the way with a +10 first-round score. Sunset’s Friday total of +22 has them in fourth place.
Prophet Hills played a respectable +28 on their home track, sitting in third place thanks in part to solid scores by Cathy Verhulst (+9), Shelley Felske (+8) and Karen Wiersema (+6).
Indian Oaks was led by Jacki Johnson (+9) and Beth Haag (+7), but sits way back in fifth at +8. Donna Brooks (+6) and Connie Wolber (+5) led the Emerald Hill team.
The team to beat is so clear that other teams might play their best rounds of the year and still not close the gap between themselves and Timber Creek. The approach won’t change from round to round for the leaders.
“We’re going to continue to play smart,” Curia said. “We have smart and talented players, and we’re going to maintain our lead hopefully.”
“We’re going to take Saturday just like we did today,” Boysen said. “One shot at a time, not looking forward. We’re going to approach it the same way.”