IUPUI to-be senior Kristi O’Brien continued her hot summer, becoming the first-ever Jaguar to win the IWGA State Amateur Championship, played at The Fort. The Fort Wayne-native carded a 54-hole 211, bettering the field by two shots.
After an opening round even par 73, O’Brien fired back-to-back 69’s on Tuesday and Wednesday to capture the title. She trailed by two shots coming into Wednesday’s final round, but finished with birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 17 to hold off Emily Podzielinski.
“The key was just focusing on my game,” O’Brien said. “(Podzielinski and I) were pretty even, but I had two good birdies back-to-back to kind of secure the lead. I knew I still had to make a good shot off the tees on 18 because it’s a hard hole and anything can happen. I hit mine up the right side of the fairway and she went into the hazard, so I knew I just had to make par or bogey from there.
“I kind of wish I would’ve made par (on 18). It didn’t really hit me until about 30 minutes later.”
O’Brien finished the tournament with 14 birdies and an eagle against just six bogeys and a double bogey.
“I hit pretty good shots the whole time,” O’Brien said. “I was putting pretty good. I missed some, obviously, but I made the important ones. From eight feet and in and I was pretty much on.”
“I’m pretty sure she’s the first Jaguar ever, boy or girl, to win the State Am,” IUPUI Head Coach John Andrews said. “I think Tara Boone was runner-up one year, but we’ve never had anyone win it. It’s pretty cool. She’s really on top of her game right now.”
Wednesday’s win was a continuation of O’Brien’s spectacular off-season. She won the Fort Wayne City Tournament earlier this month and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Bandon Dunes.
O’Brien attributes some simple changes to her success this summer.
“Mentally, it’s totally different,” O’Brien said. “I’ve stopped focusing on what the competition does and I’m working on focusing on what I’m doing. That’s made all the difference.”
O’Brien was IUPUI’s stroke average leader this past season, posting a school record 79.04 mark in 25 rounds. She ranks sixth in school history in career rounds played and is on pace to set a new career stroke average mark as well.