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After near misses the previous two years, Susan Baker reigns as the Women’s Open champion at Willow Springs Country Club.
Baker captured her first title Sept. 30 with rounds of 86-88—174 over the par-71 Willow Springs layout to post a four-shot victory.
Emerging the runner-up was Penny Carroll at 90-88—178. Lynne Cates wound up third (89-94—183), with Debbie Keely fourth (96-97—193).
Baker’s performance was highlighted by a birdie on the par-3, No. 18 layout on Saturday and a birdie on the par-4, No. 14 layout on Sunday.
In 2017, Baker lost on the first hole of a playoff to Sue McGuire and, in 2016, was defeated by McGuire by one shot.
McGuire was unable to compete last weekend because of a previous commitment.
The tournament was originally scheduled for the third weekend in September, but delayed because of the effects of Hurricane Floyd. The last weekend in September surfaced as the most accommodating reschedule date.
“I didn’t like that at all,” Baker commented of McGuire’s absence. “We tried everything we could to work it out. But she was booked up through October. About all of us were booked up through October.”
Thus, Baker proceeded to open a four-shot lead against Carroll the opening round. Carroll then struggled the front nine on Sunday and Baker’s margin widened. Carroll rebounded the back nine, but could not draw closer than four shots. Carroll ended her round by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18.
“I could have played better,” Baker reviewed. “My short game let me down a little bit. You score with your short game. I normally shoot in the low- to mid-80s and that was my goal for the weekend.”
Nonetheless, Baker celebrated the occasion after claiming the Women’s Senior division twice before becoming an Open competitor.
“I was excited ... I really was,” Baker responded. “This is the one I’ve never won and always wanted to win.”
The 2018 champ plans to contend for more club success.
“I just want to play golf,” Baker declared. “I am happy with that one. I just want to keep improving my game and go from there.”