Neisen Holds Off Burnham to Win Women’s State Open
Kenzie Neisen of New Prague G.C. held off a late surge by Sarah Burnham of Rush Creek G.C. to claim the 2017 Minnesota Women’s State Open at Deer Run Golf Club by a shot. Neisen posted a 7-under 137 two-day total highlighted by her course record 9-under 63 opening round. This is her second State Open title in three years. Neisen has won both appearances over that timespan as she missed last year’s tournament.
“Sarah’s a great player, so I knew she was going to give it a run; she definitely did that today,” stressed Neisen. “I wanted to just go out there and play and not set the expectations too high after yesterday. It’s tough to repeat that two days in a row.”
Neisen began the day with a five shot lead that was trimmed to just three after nine holes. She could not find her stroke from a day prior and all those putts she saw drop were suddenly not; opening the door for Burnham.
“My birdie opportunities were so close, and I just couldn’t get them to fall,” she said in reference to early frustration. “There were a couple up-and-downs I couldn’t convert. The both of us struggled to get putts to drop; it was one of those days.”
Burnham wasted no time on the front as she stuck her approach on the par-4 1st to 3-feet and tapped in for birdie. Quickly, Neisen’s lead was down to four.
“I didn’t know how she was going to play today, but I was going to give it my all,” said Burnham. “See what would happen. I birdied the first hole and then I didn’t have much going after that. The putts weren’t falling.”
The pair would trade pars for most of the first nine holes until Neisen bogeyed the par-4 9th which shortened the lead to two. “After nine, I was down just three shots, and I knew there were some birdie holes on the back; so I tried to give it a run.”
A short birdie miss for Neisen on the par-4 11th coupled with a 4-foot birdie for Burnham put the pressure on Neisen. “Sarah was biting at my heels all round-long,” said Neisen. “So credit to her.”
Burnham closed the gap to one shot when Neisen missed another short putt on the par-4 12th for par. She couldn’t quite pull even with Neisen, and a short miss for par at the 15th brought the lead back to two. Her last-ditch effort came at the 18th, down two, where she made a 7-foot birdie putt, but Neisen would easily two-putt from 5-feet for her par and a one shot victory.
Although she did not win it convincingly or the way she pictured after her tremendous course record first round, she was satisfied with her performance and being able to grind out the victory back home.
“It’s special to win. Obviously, being home and seeing everyone,” Neisen said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve got to play at home and see everyone. Especially to play the way I did this week.”
Burnham was upbeat and positive about her play this week and feels she can take some momentum heading into her senior season,
“Two good rounds, overall. I’m happy with where my game is at,” she emphasized. “To fall one shot short, I can’t complain really.”
The low professional was Lisa Grimes of Alexandria G.C. who shot a two-day even-par 144.