For as many times as Hannah Wood has been in contention at major statewide championships — which is to say very often — the top spot often seemed to elude her.
While playing for Arapahoe High School, she lost in a playoff at this year’s 5A state meet and previously placed third twice in that same tournament. She also finished second in the CWGA Junior Stroke Play in both 2012 and ’14.
The Centennial resident did win the last two CJGA Tournament of Champions, and last year she scored a big victory in Texas at the Kathy Whitworth Invitational junior tournament.
But on Wednesday, in her final in-state tournament before departing for the University of Oklahoma in the middle of next month, Wood put her name on the trophy for one of the most prestigious women’s amateur events in Colorado.
The 18-year-old rallied from a stroke behind going into Wednesday’s final round and claimed the title in the 67th CWGA Stroke Play Championship at Valley Country Club in her hometown of Centennial. It was the first CWGA championship for Wood.
“It’s great,” she said. “This summer has been very up and down. I wanted to do something big. I wanted to do something for myself to build some confidence going into college. Now I feel prepared. A lot of hard work has paid off. I’m just really happy right now.”
Indeed, with Wood planning to head to Oklahoma on Aug. 12 to start her college golf career, she notched one of her top accomplishments in the sport.
“This is high up there. This is the state Am. It’s a pretty big accomplishment,” she said. “You didn’t have your typical Jennifer Kupcho or Calli Ringsby or Somin Lee (in the field), but it was still stiff competition out there. I’m still proud of myself. It is the state Am. I played my heart out and it was a good tournament.”
Wood, a member of the Hale Irwin Elite Player Program at CommonGround Golf Course for the last two years, came into the final round one stroke behind leader Mikayla Tatman, who plays golf for Colorado State University. But Wood shot an even-par 72 on Wednesday — the best score of the day in the championship flight — to overtake Tatman. Wood finished with a 3-over-par 219 total for three days.
Tatman (left) missed four putts inside of 8 feet in the final seven holes, leaving her a stroke back after a closing 74. University of Colorado golfer Allie Zech placed third at 222. Janet Moore of Cherry Hills Village, a five-time Stroke Play champion, led outright after a birdie on the first hole, but struggled to a 79 on Wednesday and shared fourth place at 226 with Samantha Stancato of Patty Jewett Golf Course.
Tatman, the runner-up in the 2011 CWGA Junior Match Play, pulled even with Wood thanks to a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 11 and a bogey by Wood. But after being 18 feet from the cup on No. 12, on the fringe, the CSU golfer took four to get down, three-putting from 5 feet. That put her behind for good.
“I’m really proud of myself for putting myself in this situation,” the 21-year-old Tatman said. “Hannah played great today and I just couldn’t hang with her. It’s disappointing but I’m just happy to be where I’m at.
“The putter let me down a little bit today. But you’ve got to find a way to get it around even if your putter is not hot.”
Wood gave herself the cushion she needed by going birdie-par-birdie on Nos. 14-16. The par-4 14th was a key juncture as Tatman got up and down from a bunker, making a 25-foot par putt. But Wood followed that up by draining a 20-foot birdie.
Tatman pulled within one again with a 4-foot birdie on No. 15, where Wood just missed an 8-footer. Wood made up for that by holing a 6-foot birdie on No. 16, but gave the stroke back with a bogey on 17 after being under a tree with her tee shot.
That left Wood one ahead going into the par-3 18th. After Tatman recorded a routine par, Wood ran her 20-foot birdie attempt 3 feet past, but calmly made the par putt for the victory.
Wood credited her brother/caddie, Emerson (left, behind Hannah), for making sure she was in a good frame of mind during the final round.
“He was keeping me relaxed and kept making me laugh the entire round,” Wood said. “It was so much fun.”
But Tatman (below) figured she had a shot at the title right up until the very end.
“I thought I had a chance all the way up until the 18th hole,” she said. “I’m proud of myself this whole week for hanging in there. This is the best golf I’ve ever played. I’m really playing good golf, and I thought I had it, but I came up a shot short.”
Coincidentally, both Wood and Tatman competed in last week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in Dupont, Wash.
But after a busy summer of tournaments, Wood plans to take it easy for the next three weeks before heading off to college.
“I’m going to enjoy some summer,” she said. “I’m going to enjoy my summer now — a little late.”
For scores from the championship and first through fifth flights, CLICK HERE.