By MATT HARNESS
PARK RIDGE, Ill. (July 21, 2021) – Marissa Wenzler, of Dayton, Ohio, liked Park Ridge Country Club the moment she saw the course.
“I immediately texted my coach and told him I felt comfortable out here,” she said.
It sure looked that way as the 20-year-old Wenzler shot 67-69 to finish the stroke play portion of the 121st Women’s Western Amateur at 8 under par and earn medalist honors Wednesday. The Kentucky junior edged Emma McMyler of San Antonio, Texas, by one shot.
“Unbelievable,” said Wenzler, who received a congratulatory water shower from her fellow competitors on the 18th green. “The competition at this tournament is stacked. These players are so good.”
Wenzler was even par for her round through seven holes Wednesday before running off three birdies in a row to reach 8 under. She got to 9 under with a birdie at No. 15, and even after giving the stroke back with a bogey at the 17th, she advanced to match play as the No. 1 seed. The top 32 players moved on to match play, which starts Thursday and concludes Saturday.
“I’ve really worked on improving the mental aspect of my game,” Wenzler said. “I have check points throughout the round if, for instance, I notice my heart rate increasing. Overall, I’m playing more confidently.”
Three players finished at 6 under, including Lois Kaye Go, of Cebu City, Philippines; Jillian Bourdage, of Tamarac, Florida; and Jennifer Cleary, of Wilmington, Delaware. Cleary played in the same group as Wenzler. After 29 players broke par in the opening round, there were 36 rounds in red numbers Wednesday.
Rebecca Skoler, of Needham, Massachusetts, is one of four players at 5 under. She carded a 70 in the second round after opening with 69. Skoler, a sophomore at Virginia, was a late addition to the field. Her highlights included holing out for two eagles, one from 118 yards on Tuesday and another from 78 yards on Wednesday.
“I didn’t even know I was playing in this until a week ago,” she said. “But I’m so happy to be in Chicago. It helped me not thinking too much about the tournament beforehand.”
The cut came at even par. There was a nine-player playoff for the final three spots in match play. Defending champion Brigitte Thibault, of Rosemere, Quebec, missed the cut after rounds of 74-77.
Wenzler is making her second consecutive appearance in match play after advancing to the Sweet 16 last year at Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort, Illinois. Kentucky has a history of recent success at the Women’s Western Amateur. Sarah Shipley, of Hastings, Michigan, won in 2019 at Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove, Illinois, when she was a Kentucky senior.
“I love match play,” said Wenzler, who qualified for match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur last year and will play in the 2021 event this August. “It’s a completely different kind of game, but I will keep the same mindset. I’ll play smart when I need to and aggressive when I can. I look forward to the challenge.”
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 and features the top amateur and collegiate players from across the globe.
The 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.
Attendance and parking for the Women’s Western Amateur are free.
To view the match play bracket, click here.