Thrice as Nice

There were times in the last few years when Melissa Martin entertained thoughts of throwing in the towel regarding high-level competitive golf.

But after rebuilding her swing, then struggling to get back to peak form, a big payoff came on Friday.

The former University of Denver golfer joined an elite group of players who have won the CWGA Stroke Play Championship three times. For Martin, victory No. 3 came Friday at The Ranch Country Club in Westminster, where she pulled away on the back nine of the final round to prevail by an impressive eight shots.

“Three years ago I decided to rebuild my swing when I came to DU (from Colorado State), and it’s been like an uphill battle for three years,” Martin said. “I’ve been so sick and I’ve wanted to quit so many times, but I didn’t. It’s finally all paying off.”

The CWGA Stroke Play has now been contested 66 times and only six other golfers have won the title on at least three occasions: Carol Flenniken (eight), Janet Moore (five), Kim Eaton (four), and Sally Hardwick, Joan Birkland and Nicki Cutler (three each).

At 23 years old, Martin (pictured above and at left) became part of that group on Friday, having previously won the CWGA Stroke Play in 2009 and ’10.

After being tied with 2013 CWGA Junior Stroke Play champ Kelly Moran of Boulder Country Club after 10 holes of Friday’s final round, Martin put the pedal to the metal to pull away. The golfer from Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction made three straight birdies — all from inside of 10 feet — starting on No. 11 en route to shooting a 1-over-par 72. That gave Martin a 7-over-par 220 total at The Ranch, where the greens put even the best golfers to the test.

Moran, who will play college golf at William & Mary in Virginia beginning in the fall, closed with a 78 to share second place at 228. Also at that figure was 2012 champion Somin Lee of CommonGround Golf Course, who carded a 74 on Friday.

Colorado State University golfer Christina Spinzig of Hiwan Golf Club posted a final-round 77 for a 229 total, good for fourth place.

As for Martin, she coincidentally won at The Ranch, where her DU coach, Lindsay Hulwick, claimed the 2005 CWGA Stroke Play championship. Hulwick and DU assistant coach Erik Billinger were among those following Martin on Friday. Also on hand were several of Melissa’s family members who made long trips early Friday morning to watch: her mom and dad came in from Grand Junction and her aunt and uncle from Fort Morgan.

“That was really special,” said Martin, who graduated from DU earlier this month.

With Martin tentatively planning to turn pro later this year — possibly in time for the HealthOne Colorado Women’s Open in September — and compete in LPGA Tour qualifying, this state amateur stroke play may be her last.

Winning “is really special because I don’t know if I’ll get to play in this tournament next year,” she said.

For a while on Friday, it didn’t look like any sure thing that Martin would emerge victorious. Though none of her opponents ever took the outright lead, Moran (pictured at left) did tie it up in the middle of the final round.

The 17-year-old parred every hole on the front nine Friday to catch Martin, who started the day two ahead of Moran. And the two remained tied after matching bogeys on No. 10.

But Moran ended up shooting a 6-over-par 42 on the back nine and she made two double bogeys along the way. Her crisp iron shots from earlier in the round often fell short of the green on the back nine.

“Toward the end my irons really let me down a lot and I had some shorter putts that I missed that really hurt,” Moran said. “It was kind of snowballing a little bit.”

Holes 11, 12 and 13 basically decided the tournament as Martin holed birdie putts of 8, 4 and 6 feet while Moran went par-bogey-double bogey. That added up to a six-stroke swing in three holes.

“She’s an incredible player,” Moran said of Martin. “She’s really solid. If she makes a mistake, she fixes it right away. She’s one of the most solid players I’ve ever played with. It was definitely an honor to play with her given her credentials. She played a really great round and it was hard to compete with.”

But Martin (pictured at left) was frustrated in the middle of her round, especially with going 3 over par in four holes starting on No. 7.

“There were a series of bad shots or bad decisions and that bummed me out,” she said. “And Kelly was playing super solid. She was scrambling really well. I had to kind of ride (that out) and get back on the wave, and the approach shot on 11 is where I got back on it.

“I just really wanted to make good shots and make good putts because … I haven’t done it for so long. And once it finally comes together, you just want to keep doing it. Obviously I wanted to win, but I didn’t really think about that. I just thought about trying to get the ball into the hole.”

While Martin won the championship flight on Friday, four-time champ Eaton claimed the title in the first flight as a final-round 74 gave her a 231 total.

CWGA Stroke Play Championship
At Par-71 Ranch CC in Westminster


Championship Flight
Melissa Martin, Grand Junction, Colo. 76-72-72–220
Kelly Moran, Boulder, Colo. 72-78-78–228
Somin Lee, Centennial, Colo. 76-78-74–228
Christina Spinzig, Evergreen, Colo. 74-78-77–229
Kayla Riede, Olivehurst, Calif. 81-73-76–230
Mikayla Tatman, Longmont, Colo. 77-77-78–232
Hannah Wood, Centennial, Colo. 72-77-84–233
Taylor Dorans, Erie, Colo. 74-81-78–233
Paige Crawford, Colorado Springs, Colo. 79-77-78–234
Calli Ringsby, Cherry Hills Village, Colo. 77-78-83–238
Dani Urman, Greenwood Village , Colo. 79-77-88–244
Deb Hughes, Denver, Colo. 78-78-90–246

First Flight
Kim Eaton, Tempe, Ariz. 75-82-74–231
Amy Hodgkinson, Longmont, Colo. 78-82-75–235
Emily Wood, Salida, Colo. 77-83-76–236
Kathleen Kershisnik, Highlands Ranch, Colo. 81-79-76–236
Nicole Hulbert, Arvada, Colo. 78-79-79–236
Mackenzie Thayer, Garden City, Kan. 81-77-79–237
Shannon Lubar, Littleton, Colo. 79-82-78–239
Shannon Lutynski, Castle Rock, Colo. 81-77-82–240
Lara Pocs, Wesminster, Colo. 88-82-74–244
Holly Schaefer, Greenwood Village, Colo. 85-82-79–246
Michaela Marie Breit, Greeley, Colo. 85-81-80–246
Callie Hodgkinson, Longmont, Colo. 82-83-84–249
Claudia Davis, Greenwood VIllage, Colo. 81-85-WD–WD

Second Flight
Megan McCambridge, Boulder, Colo. 80-76-73–229
Laurie Steenrod, Aurora, Colo. 78-76-77–231
Sara Swaney, Larkspur, Colo. 77-78-80–235
Emily Woodard, Cheyenne, Wyo. 79-76-81–236
Kathy Malpass, Evergreen, Colo. 84-77-77–238
Jennifer Hocking, Colorado Springs, Colo. 84-79-77–240
Joanna Ringsby, Denver, Colo. 86-79-79–244
Andrea Ballou, Larkspur, Colo. 84-82-80–246
Mary Doyen, Denver, Colo. 88-84-77–249
Katty Rothberg, Denver, Colo. 81-86-85–252
Holly Schmitt, Centennial, Colo. 81-84-88–253
Ruth Van Zee, Denver, Colo. 83-85-85–253
Nina Dulacki, Denver, Colo. 88-85-82–255
Jane Ford, Thornton, Colo. 92-88-88–268

Third Flight
Rachel Cavalier, Lafayette, Colo. 82-86-84–252
Kelli Poppenhagen, Aurora, Colo. 86-81-87–254
Audrey Bopp, Ft.Collins, Colo. 83-88-89–260
Pam Cortez, Louisville, Colo. 89-83-88–260
Virginia Love, Mesa, Ariz. 85-83-96–264
Sheila Schroeder, Englewood, Colo. 84-88-93–265
Jill Kirkpatrick, Denver, Colo. 89-91-86–266
Bobby Jackson, Denver, Colo. 86-95-93–274
Jan Milne, Fort Collins, Colo. 88-89-97–274
Karen Honnessy, Minturn, Colo. 94-94-90–278
Melody Ulen, Lakewood, Colo. 86-94-98–278
Vicki Porter, Denver, Colo. 92-89-97–278
Jenny Tempas, Littleton, Colo. 100-WD

Fourth Flight
Pat O’Connor, Fort Collins, Colo. 87-86-90–263
Mary Smith, Arvada, Colo. 96-92-82–270
Cindy Speer, Parker, Colo. 88-93-90–271
Jennie Jones, Englewood, Colo. 94-89-97–280
Juna Orr, Denver, Colo. 93-98-90–281
Lyndon Lieb, Highlands Ranch, Colo. 101-89-92–282
Madison McCambridge, Boulder, Colo. 91-98-93–282
Claudia Gallegos, Lone Tree, Colo. 92-95-96–283
Pat Kuntz, Tempe, Ariz. 93-88-102–283
Geri Reinardy, Denver, Colo. 102-97-94–293
Norma Bisdorf, Denver, Colo. 99-98-100–297

Fifth Flight
Barbara White, Thornton, Colo. 101-109-88–298
Cheryl Ellen, Broomfield, Colo. 108-99-101–308
Patricia Moore, Broomfield, Colo. 107-104-100–311
Kay Boyle, Northglenn, Colo. 114-104-104–322
Rose Rismanchi, Aurora, Colo. 111-108-111–330
Donna Jones, Erie, Colo. 116-114-112–342
Erlinda Shearer, Denver, Colo. 102-129-117–348
Cogie Elzea, Thornton, Colo. 117-WD


First Flight
Emily Wood, Salida, Colo. 73-79-72–224
Amy Hodgkinson, Longmont, Colo. 76-80-73–229
Nicole Hulbert, Arvada, Colo. 76-77-77–230
Lara Pocs, Wesminster, Colo. 84-78-70–232
Kim Eaton, Tempe, Ariz. 76-83-75–234
Shannon Lutynski, Castle Rock, Colo. 79-75-80–234
Michaela Marie Breit, Greeley, Colo. 81-77-77–235
Kathleen Kershisnik, Highlands Ranch, Colo. 81-79-76–236
Holly Schaefer, Greenwood Village, Colo. 82-79-76–237
Callie Hodgkinson, Longmont, Colo. 78-79-81–238
Mackenzie Thayer, Garden City, Kan. 82-78-80–240
Shannon Lubar, Littleton, Colo. 81-84-80–245
Claudia Davis, Greenwood VIllage, Colo. 83-87-WD–WD

Second Flight
Jennifer Hocking, Colorado Springs, Colo. 75-70-68–213
Laurie Steenrod, Aurora, Colo. 73-71-72–216
Megan McCambridge, Boulder, Colo. 76-72-69–217
Kathy Malpass, Evergreen, Colo. 78-71-71–220
Sara Swaney, Larkspur, Colo. 72-73-75–220
Emily Woodard, Cheyenne, Wyo. 74-71-76–221
Joanna Ringsby, Denver, Colo. 79-72-72–223
Andrea Ballou, Larkspur, Colo. 77-75-73–225
Holly Schmitt, Centennial, Colo. 72-75-79–226
Katty Rothberg, Denver, Colo. 73-78-77–228
Nina Dulacki, Denver, Colo. 79-76-73–228
Mary Doyen, Denver, Colo. 82-78-71–231
Ruth Van Zee, Denver, Colo. 77-79-79–235
Jane Ford, Thornton, Colo. 83-79-79–241

Third Flight
Kelli Poppenhagen, Aurora, Colo. 72-67-73–212
Rachel Cavalier, Lafayette, Colo. 72-76-74–222
Audrey Bopp, Ft.Collins, Colo. 71-76-77–224
Pam Cortez, Louisville, Colo. 78-72-77–227
Bobby Jackson, Denver, Colo. 71-80-78–229
Jan Milne, Fort Collins, Colo. 73-74-82–229
Sheila Schroeder, Englewood, Colo. 73-77-82–232
Virginia Love, Mesa, Ariz. 75-73-86–234
Jill Kirkpatrick, Denver, Colo. 79-81-76–236
Vicki Porter, Denver, Colo. 78-75-83–236
Karen Honnessy, Minturn, Colo. 83-83-79–245
Melody Ulen, Lakewood, Colo. 75-83-87–245
Jenny Tempas, Littleton, Colo. 86-WD

Fourth Flight
Pat O’Connor, Fort Collins, Colo. 71-70-74–215
Mary Smith, Arvada, Colo. 79-75-65–219
Cindy Speer, Parker, Colo. 71-76-73–220
Madison McCambridge, Boulder, Colo. 71-78-73–222
Claudia Gallegos, Lone Tree, Colo. 74-77-78–229
Juna Orr, Denver, Colo. 76-81-73–230
Lyndon Lieb, Highlands Ranch, Colo. 84-72-75–231
Jennie Jones, Englewood, Colo. 78-73-81–232
Pat Kuntz, Tempe, Ariz. 76-71-85–232
Norma Bisdorf, Denver, Colo. 80-79-81–240
Geri Reinardy, Denver, Colo. 86-81-78–245

Fifth Flight
Barbara White, Thornton, Colo. 76-84-63–223
Cheryl Ellen, Broomfield, Colo. 80-71-72–223
Rose Rismanchi, Aurora, Colo. 76-73-75–224
Kay Boyle, Northglenn, Colo. 82-72-71–225
Patricia Moore, Broomfield, Colo. 82-79-74–235
Donna Jones, Erie, Colo. 86-84-81–251
Erlinda Shearer, Denver, Colo. 73-100-87–260
Cogie Elzea, Thornton, Colo. 93-WD