For two days the 95th
Indiana Women’s Amateur Championship at Rock Hollow GC, went like many expected. Four-time champion Julia Potter built a commanding five-shot lead over Rachel Johnson with two others 7-shots back. The final round, however, produced the unexpected, that included nearly five hours of weather delays and concluded with Emma Fisher winning her first Indiana Amateur crown.
Prior to coming from 7-shots behind to capture the title, even the 19-year-old Bloomington native had her doubts tracking down Potter was a possibility. “I wasn’t sure about it,” said Fisher. “I didn’t really know how Julia was going to play. She’s a really good player so she could have come out and shot three-under for all I know.” The rising Junior at Indiana University was paired a group ahead of Potter and got off to a quick start with a birdie at the 1st hole, then finished the front nine with a birdie at the 9th to turn at one-under for the day. “This morning I was pretty consistent,” said Fisher about her start. “I was making putts that I needed to make and there were a few birdie putts that could have dropped, but that’s just golf.”
In the group behind, Potter’s start gave no indication that things would be any different than the prior two days as she made par on her first three holes. However, it was the next three that changed the dynamic of the tournament with Potter playing them 5-over par. Potter made the turn at 41, but neither Johnson nor Lauren Tibbets, play
ing with her in the final group, were able to make up significant ground.
As Potter turned, she knew that her lead had been reduced to two, indicated by the leaderboard with her group. Ahead, Fisher had access to her own leaderboard, but never had any desire to look at it. “I just kept doing what I know how to do,” said Fisher. “That’s one of the reasons I don’t like to look at the scores, because I just like to play golf.” At the par-5 10th
hole, Potter extended her lead back to three with a birdie when Mother Nature decided to take over.
The first stretch of severe weather forced players in for a little over an hour and when play resumed the golf course was still very much like it had been all week. Potter made a long par putt at the 11th
that appeared to have her ship righted, but followed that with a bogey at 12 while at the same time Fisher was making birdie on 13 to cut the lead to just one. The lead remained one with Fisher through 15 and Potter having five feet for bogey on 14, when the horns sounded again.
This time, the delay lasted nearly four hours and the forecast indicated that a next-day finish was a real possibility. During that time, Fisher could no longer avoid seeing the updated leaderboard, showing her trailing by one, standing in the pavilion where the field was gathered to wait out the weather. “I was shocked,” said Fisher when she realized her standing in the tournament. “I thought, I’m actually in the running for this now. I just told myself to stay level headed, go play, and finish this either today or tomorrow.”
About 9-hours after the leaders had started the round, the severe weather subsided and the golf course, although saturated, had returned to some form of playability. Within minutes after the restart, the lead had flipped, with Potter missing her putt and making double bogey on 14, giving Fisher the outright lead. “Going back out there I just hit the ball where I could see it,” said Fisher of the restart. “I didn’t really take too many risks, just hit it in the fairway, get it up on the green and two putt and if it drops, then good.” The one thing that didn’t change for Fisher over her last three holes was here desire to not watch the leaderboard and after making par on the 18th
-hole for a 1-under-par round of 71, she stood on the 18th
green waiting for Potter to finish.
After the double on 14, Potter made a great par save on 15, but missed birdie chances on 16 and 17 to trail by one coming to the final hole. With her tee shot finding the right rough, Potter put her second in the greenside bunker needing to hole out and force a playoff. When her third shot went long, Fisher had captured the biggest win of her career. “I’m still a little bit shocked,” said the newly minted champion. “I grew up playing these tournaments so it’s nice to be back home and playing with all the girls that I know and seeing everyone…so yeah, it’s a really good feeling.”
Fisher’s round of 71 was the lowest by three shots in the final round and one of only three under-par rounds for the week. Potter finished second, two-shots back, and was gracious after a tough day. “I have definitely had better rounds,” said the four-time State Am champ. “I struggled trying to find a groove out there and with the rain delays I believe that is what got me in the end.” Tibbets and Johnson finished third and fourth respectively with Morgan Lewis and Kristina Kniesly tied for fifth.
In addition to the overall championship the field was flighted for the final round. Flight winners were Minka Gill, Paige Bird, Ashton Taft and Grace Davis.