By John Vrancic
Special for Second Half
GLADSTONE — Sometimes it pays for golfers to have short memories.
After struggling in Wednesday’s practice round at Irish Oaks Golf Course, Marli Hietila shook that off in time to earn medalist honors at Thursday’s Upper Peninsula Division 3 Golf Finals.
The Chassell junior shot 88 for her first U.P. title on this warm and humid day, which included a brief downpour.
“My driver helped me a lot today, and my chipping was good,” she said. “I had a couple rough holes, but it turned out pretty good. The downpour made it exciting. We were just starting a hole when it started pouring. The weather conditions could have been better, although it wasn’t too bad. I would have preferred to have it a little cooler.”
Ontonagon captured its first title in seven years with 433 strokes, followed by Crystal Falls Forest Park at 442, Big Bay de Noc 479, Cedarville 498 and Pickford with 501.
“We knew Forest Park would be one of the frontrunners,” said first-year Ontonagon coach Adam Spaulding. “They have their competition and good facilities in their area. Our girls are real good about helping each other out. They played very well today.”
Last year’s champion, Cedarville sophomore Lily Freel, was runner-up this time at 90.
“I definitely didn’t play how I thought I would,” said Freel. “My practice round went real well. I know I can play like that, which makes this pretty disappointing. My shots weren’t as solid as I hoped, and I really struggled reading the greens and misjudged distances. My putting also let me down. Golf is so unpredictable. I consistently shot in the low 80s all year, but didn’t do it on the day it really counted.”
Freel was followed by Powers North Central junior Jadie Linder at 95.
“This was the best I played all year,” said Linder. “My drives went real well, and my putting was better than usual. I didn’t have any expectations coming in and played pretty relaxed. Last year I took sixth in the Finals. I improved a lot from last year.”
Ontonagon’s leader was sophomore Hallie Bobula, who shot 103 and edged Carney-Nadeau eighth-grader Tessa Wagner on a tie-breaker for fourth place.
Also placing in the top 10 individually were Carney-Nadeau senior Breanna Bedgood at 104, Mackinac Island sophomore McKenna Horricks at 105, Ontonagon senior Kinsey Weisinger 106 and Forest Park senior Alina Soha and Rock Mid Peninsula eighth-grader Shaelyn Lampinen both firing 107.
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PHOTOS: (Top) Ontonagon’s Izabelle Lutz executes a chip Thursday at the U.P. Division 3 Golf Finals at Gladstone’s Irish Oaks Golf Course. (Middle) Chassell’s Marli Hietila shot 88 to capture girls medalist honors. (Photos by Mike Mattson.)