Waunakee junior Izzi Stricker doesn’t mind coming from behind in a golf tournament.
In fact, she kind of likes it.
Stricker was definitely in catch-up mode Tuesday and knew she would have to shoot under-par in the final round of the WIAA Division 1 state girls golf tournament.
She quickly turned from the hunter to the hunted.
She stormed back with six birdies, including four in a row — and turned a four-stroke deficit after Monday’s first round into the lead and then a state championship Tuesday at University Ridge Golf Course.
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“It was my goal since the last state tournament (a year ago),” Stricker said. She tied for 14th last year.
Stricker shot a 2-under-par 70 and finished with a 143 total, two shots better than Salem Westosha Central junior Kylie Walker (69-76—145).
In winning her first state title, Stricker became Waunakee’s first individual champion in girls golf, coach Paul Miller confirmed.
“I would say I feel very accomplished and very proud of myself,” Stricker said. “It’s a great accomplishment. It hasn’t really settled yet.”
Stricker had to wait about an hour while the final groups, which included Walker, finished.
“I’m just so happy for Izzi,” Miller said. “She put in the work. She hits the shots. I’m so impressed with how she kept it all together. She said today she was very alert. I think you call that ‘being in the zone.’ … She is very serving.
“She is super humble. She works hard, has a great attitude. She doesn’t get down. She doesn’t let a bad hole get to her. She comes back with more ferocity. She doesn’t let things get to her. That can make you a champion and it did today.”
The victory — on a windy day when it was sunny in the morning and rainy in the afternoon — led to many hugs shared afterward with teammates, coaches, friends and family — including her father, professional golfer Steve Stricker; mother, Nicki; and sister, Bobbi.
“They were proud of me,” Izzi Stricker said.
Izzi Stricker, calling it her biggest victory in competitive golf, said: “This a big step.”
She said she doesn’t like to play for a specific number during a round. But she thought a 68 would be needed for her to contend for the state championship after she was tied for third following Monday’s first round.
Stricker, who loves to fish for muskies and walleyes seemingly as much as she loves to golf, didn’t need to go quite that low, but the score she shot did the trick.
Stricker had birdies on Nos. 2, 6, 8 and 9 and a double bogey on No. 7 in compiling a 2-under 34 on her first nine holes.
She wound up with birdies on four consecutive holes — Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11 — to go to 4-under. That was the first time in competitive golf she had made four consecutive birdies, said Stricker, noting three straight was her previous best.
“I try not to get ahead of myself, but I knew those four (consecutive) birdies were definitely going to help me,” she said. “I had no idea where I was in comparison to the field, but I knew it would help me climb the leaderboard.”
She had a bogey on No. 13 and another on No. 14, falling back to 2-under. Walker closed within one stroke with birdies on No. 15 and No. 16 but had a bogey on No. 17.
Middleton coach Becky Halverson, whose team finished as Division 1 runner-up, was happy to see an area golfer, particularly Stricker, win the state title.
“I’m so proud of Izzi,” Halverson said. “I enjoy her so much. I would say she is one of the best girls golfers in the state. I tell her that. She is so nice and she is so fun to watch. I’m just so proud she won. She’s not on our team, but I feel she is part of our team.”
Westosha Central defended its Division 1 title, shooting a 319 total Tuesday and finishing with 626. Middleton was second with 645 (315-330). Waunakee wound up fifth (334-331—665), led by Stricker and junior Jordan Shipshock (80, tied for 22nd with 162).
“Obviously, we had hoped that we would finish first,” said Halverson, the Big Eight Conference Coach of the Year. “But Westosha Central, they are a solid team. They played outstanding today. Our girls hung in there today. … We are definitely happy with bringing home a trophy.”
Middleton junior Vivian Cressman was tied for fifth after shooting 77 for a 151.
Middleton senior Amanda Beckman went 80-80 for a 160 and Middleton junior Ellen Close was tied for 22nd (79-83—162).
“I’m so proud of all these girls,” Close said. “We all came in here to play our best. We wanted to play our best and we all did.”
Prescott defended its Division 2 title, winning a playoff over The Prairie School after the teams tied at 684.
Madison Edgewood, led by senior Sarah Nakada (86-95—181), placed fourth with 761.
Prescott senior Ava Salay repeated as champion, shooting 74 and finishing with 149.
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