Rochester claims third straight UPLGA crown

HYDE – In the days leading up to the UPLGA Championship, Marquette’s Avery Rochester-the two time defending champion-was the overwhelming favorite to win, again.

All tournament long, she lived up to the expectations and proved why she was the one to beat. The top-seeded golfer in the tournament claimed her third straight UPLGA title, defeating the No. 2 seed, Calumet’s Zoe Woodworth, 3 and 2 in the championship match play final, at the Highland Golf Club.

“It feels great to have a three-peat, but this was probably one of the hardest matches I played,” Rochester said. “Zoe’s a great golfer, but because we’re good friends, it’s always hard to play a competitive match against one of your good friends. It’s hard to keep your tournament mindset and focus, while you also want to be friendly to them. That was hard for me.”

In the beginning, it didn’t look too hard on Rochester.

With Woodworth struggling out of the gates, Rochester won the first two holes to go up two, early on. Both golfers struggled on the par-4 first, as Rochester settled for bogey, and Woodworth’s bogey putt lipped out, giving her a double bogey to open the round.

On the par-4 second, Rochester sent her second shot onto the green, 10 feet from the hole. She would two-putt for par to win the hole, with Woodworth already laying four at that point.

“I started off rough, so I was already down and it’s already tough to come back against her,” Woodworth said. “I kind of gave her a couple holes where I was on the green and I three-putted, or I dubbed a chip. I gave her a couple holes that were kind of thrown away.”

Once she settled down from a shaky start, Woodworth started to match Rochester shot-for-shot. Woodworth would even go on and win the par-3 fourth, where she would make a par, while Rochester would have to settle for bogey, cutting Rochester’s lead to one.

Rochester pushed her lead back to three after she birdied the par-5 ninth. Still, Woodworth was able to put pressure on the reigning champ.

On the par-4 11th, Rochester’s drive went left into the line of trees. Not being able to get a clear look at the green, she sent her second shot into the trees along the right side of the green, forcing her to try to chip it low beneath the leaves and branches. It didn’t work. She overshot the green and her ball landed on the other side.

While Rochester was struggling, Woodworth took advantage. After her drive landed in the fairway, giving her 140 yards from the green, she stuck it 12 feet from the hole. She would go on and two-putt to win the hole.

Following her mess on 11, Rochester rebounded quickly and sent her drive straight down the fairway on the par-4 12th. With 75 yards separating her from the hole, she stuck her second shot eight feet above the hole. Rochester would go on to convert the birdie putt and push her lead back up to three.

On the par-3 14th and the par-4 15th, it was the same story.

With Rochester only needing a tie on the par-3 16th to win, her and Woodworth both parred the hole, giving Rochester the 3 and 2 victory.

The two friends embraced afterwards, each sharing a hug and smiling, with Tuesday adding another story to their friendship.

Earlier in the day, during the semifinals match, it was Rochester and Woodworth both winning 3 and 2. Rochester defeated No. 5 seed, Gladstone’s Lori Shea, and Woodworth topped Pine Grove’s JoAnn Poncino, the No. 3 seed.

“I feel so good,” Poncino said after her round. “Lori and I for the old geezers, held our own. I’m so proud of both of us.”

In the other flights, it was Nancy Osier of Gogebic defeating Lisa LaCasse out of Gladstone to take the President’s flight. Additional flights listed below:

1st Flight – Cathy Shamion, Ontonagon def. Karen McCorkle, Gladstone

2nd Flight – Jean Constantini, Pine Grove def. Heidi Olsen, Oak Crest

3rd Flight – Linda Richard, The Crossings def. Jamie Schaut, Oak Crest

4th Flight – Peggy Koski, Wawanowin def. Patrica Roberts, Wawanowin

5th Flight – Hilary Melin, Highland def. Miriam Dannenmuller, The Crossings

6th Flight – Lisa Leskamic, Marquette def. Diane Woodworth, Calumet