BR-H’s Stenberg soars

ESCANABA – Playing an extra hole worked to Savana Stenberg’s advantage Thursday as she gained her first Upper Peninsula Division 3 golf championship at the Escanaba Country Club.

The Bark River-Harris senior and DeTour freshman Madison Wilkie each shot 91 through 18 holes, forcing the playoff hole. Stenberg then won on a tie-breaker.

BR-H also earned its first U.P. title with 415 strokes, followed by Forest Park 441 and Ontonagon 464.

“I thought this was going to be very tight,” BR-H coach Scott Farnsworth said. “Forest Park has four seniors and a very strong program. I honestly thought it would be within a few strokes.”

Nerves were evident as both girls needed five strokes to complete the playoff hole, with each missing a three-foot putt, a stroke before finding the bottom of the cup on the No. 10 hole.

During the playoff, Wilkie inadvertently picked up the ball while it was lying on the fringe. After the hole was done, Stenberg was declared the winner following a brief meeting of the players and coaches involved, as well as course officials.

“Yes, I did touch it,” Wilkie acknowledged. “I just kind of forgot myself at the moment.”

The girls set themselves up with strong tee shots which landed about halfway down and on the left side of the fairway, followed by solid approach shots.

“I think we should have played another hole,” said Stenberg. “What happened with Madison was unfortunate.

“On the course, I wasn’t nervous. But the playoff hole was nerve-wracking. I tried to think I was by myself. I usually tell myself I have to do well. But it seemed like I couldn’t play at all today.

“My putting was way off,” she added. “It’s just a relief to get this meet in and come out on top.”

Wilkie overcame a slow start to reach the extra hole.

“I didn’t think I’d do very good after I four-putted the first hole,” said Wilkie. “I just had to forget about it. We still had 17 more holes.

“I did well on the par-5s. My drives were pretty good, but my approach shots worked the best. This was definitely a learning experience.”

BR-H sophomore Hannah Starnes placed third at 94, followed by Mid Peninsula junior Hunter Branstrom 95.

“I was real nervous on the front nine, but played my game on the back nine,” Starnes said. “I calmed down once we got to the back nine. I didn’t overthink anything and established a rhythm.

“No. 11 was a turning point because I hit a three and parred that hole. I hadn’t gotten a par since hole No. 2. That was really a lift. I’m happy with my score.”

A year ago, the Broncos were runners-up to Munising at the Highland Golf Club.

“Winning this meet was our goal all year,” Farnsworth said. “With the talent we had, I thought we could get there.”

Branstrom shot 45 on the front nine and followed that with 50 on the back nine.

“I golfed pretty well on the front nine, then I got a little tired,” she said.

“My putting and drives were pretty good today, but I need to work on my chipping for sure.”

Big Bay de Noc had a top 10 finisher in senior Cassidy Cayemberg, who placed seventh at 105. She was followed by Forest Park sophomore Anne Taylor 107 and senior Toni Santi 109.