NORFOLK, Neb. — Don’t you dare put an asterisk next to Kaitlyn Hanna’s repeat Class A state golf championship.
For one thing, it would have blown away in Tuesday’s gale.
But moreso, there was no shared title, no weather-shortened tournament for the Omaha Westside sophomore. She became the 11th multiple winner in Class A and the third in a row with her eight-stroke victory.
“These were tough conditions," Hanna said. “I played so good the first day that I was hoping to do the same thing,”
Winds that whipped leaves, flagsticks and golfers’ push carts around Norfolk Country Club sent scores soaring in the final round. Hanna went from Monday’s par 72 to an 80 Tuesday — and that tied for the low score of the day on the 5,559-yard course.
Also with an 80 was freshman Nicole Kolbas of Lincoln Pius X, who tied Brynn Sundquist of Lincoln Southwest for second.
Lincoln Southwest put three in the top eight for a repeat team title and its third in five years. Silver Hawk sophomores Neely Adler (81) and Kate Strickland (86) tied for sixth. Sundquist was the only senior in the top nine.
Hanna validated last year’s title, which she shared with Jalea Culliver of Omaha Marian, by avoiding big numbers. She made just one double bogey each round, each caused by bad lies in bunkers.
Tuesday’s came on the 12th hole and touched off a stretch in which she was 5-over in four holes. She steadied her round with a long two-putt for par on the drivable par-4 16th after barely getting on the green with a stubbed chip shot.
“Everyone makes mistakes, so even with doing that I still had to get out there and just two-putt," Hanna said. “Because no three-putts was one of my goals today. To get that par gave me a little bit of confidence. I got a par, so let’s get another one.”
She got two more, getting up-and-down on the par-3 17th and leaving a birdie putt just short on the par-5 18th that played into the wind.
How strong was the zephyr? At times, this summer’s Nebraska Girls Amateur winner said she was playing 165-yard shots as if they were 125 — about a four-club difference.
“It was so firm out, especially with the wind, that it was cooling down the greens," Hanna said. “The key was just landing it in front of the green and having it roll up.”
Southwest coach Jim Danson said he’s never see Norfolk Country Club play tougher in the wind.
“I’m glad we went 36 (holes). I’m not going to complain, but wow, it was tough. For Neely to shoot 81 was just phenomenal," Danson said. “For her to come through in the clutch like that is just incredible. There’s not enough words to say how proud I am of Neely today.”
Strickland, who shot 66 in districts and won the Nebraska women’s match-play title this summer, never mounted a charge in the final round after starting five strokes off the lead.
“I think she put a little too much pressure on herself to do well," Danson said. “What I tried to tell her is one golf tournament doesn’t define who she is. She is such a phenomenal kid. Without her, we would not be where we are today and that’s all there is to it.”