NORTHFIELD, Ill. (July 19, 2022) – As she stood on the second tee on Tuesday, Emily Lauterbach felt the wind start moving through the trees at Sunset Ridge Country Club.
Playing in the morning wave in the first round of the 122nd Women’s Western Amateur Championship, the 21-year-old from Hartland, Wisconsin, hadn’t planned on dealing winds that reached 15 miles per hour at times. The added variable didn’t seem to bother her, as she birdied all three of the par 5s at Sunset Ridge to post a 2-under 69 and take the lead after 18 holes of stroke play.
“I consider myself a pretty good wind player,” Lauterbach said. “I prefer the wind over no wind at all. During practice I’m used to it, and that’s how I see certain shots.”
The 21-year-old rising senior at Wisconsin looked comfortable navigating Sunset Ridge’s tree-lined fairways and slippery greens Tuesday. She arrived at the Women’s Western Amateur just days after winning the Wisconsin Women’s State Amateur at West Bend Country Club, which followed her win at the Wisconsin State Women’s Open at The Golf Courses of Lawsonia in June.
Sunset Ridge “is actually very similar to courses I grew up playing, similar to courses I play in Madison with my college team,” Lauterbach said. “When you think of a typical Midwest course, I think of tree lined. I think of bent grass. That’s pretty much what you see at this course, too.”
After a second round of stroke play on Wednesday, the 120-player field will be cut to the low 32 players for match play. Five rounds of 18-hole matches – culminating with the final match on July 23 – will decide the Women’s Western Amateur champion.
Seven players shot even par or better on Tuesday, including 2021 runner-up Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, of Perth, Australia, who posted a 1-under 70. The rising junior at Oklahoma State shares second place with Stanford’s Sadie Englemann, of Austin, Texas, and Rianne Mikhaela Malixi, of the Philippines.
Englemann offset bogeys on Nos. 1 and 18 with a trio of birdies. She said she was able to draw on her experience being part of the Stanford team that won the NCAA team championship in May.
“You’re competing with everyone in the field, so it’s definitely a lot different than college golf,” Englemann said. “But I think I’ve taken a lot of confidence from college golf and the team I’ve had.”
Brooke Biermann (Michigan State), of Wildwood, Missouri; Jennifer Cai (Northwestern), of Irvine, California; and Taglao Jeeravivitaporn (Iowa State), of Thailand, are tied for fifth after posting even-par 70s. Jeeravivitaporn, who made two bogeys and a double bogey, struggled off the tee Tuesday but was able to stay in good position with 18 holes to play before the match-play cut.
“For me what was really tough was the fairways,” she said. “It was really tough to find the fairway today.”
Defending champion Marissa Wenzler, of Dayton, Ohio, got off to a solid start with a 2-over 73 that put her in a tie for 13th. The rising senior at Kentucky is trying to become the first player to win back-to-back Women’s Western Amateurs in more than two decades (Meredith Duncan in 2000 and 2001).
Held without interruption since its inception in 1901, the Women’s Western Amateur is among the oldest and most prestigious annual championships in women’s amateur golf. The tournament is conducted jointly by the Women’s Western Golf Association and the Western Golf Association.
The championship features the top amateur and collegiate players from across the globe. Its list of past champions spans more than a century, from legendary stars Patty Berg, Louise Suggs and Nancy Lopez to modern standouts like Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lang, Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn.
This is Sunset Ridge’s fifth WWGA championship. The club was also the site of the 1935 Women’s Western Open (won by Opal Hill), the 1942 Women’s Western Amateur (won by Betty Jameson) and the 1953 and 1961 Women’s Western Juniors (won by Anne Richardson and Ann Baker, respectively).
In addition to its WWGA championships, Sunset Ridge has hosted three WGA championships – the 1936 Western Junior, the 1972 Western Open and, most recently, the 2018 Western Amateur won by Texas standout Cole Hammer.
Attendance and parking for the Women’s Western Amateur are free. For more information, visit www.womenswesternamateur.com.