Golf: Elise Swartout wins Illinois Women’s Open in playoff
By Kevin McGavin For Sun-Times Media August 2, 2013 7:02PM
Elise Swartout is the champion of the 2013 Illinois Women's Open. | Zach Dillman/This & That Photography
Updated: September 5, 2013 6:51AM
Based on recent results, a sudden-death playoff seemed inevitable at the Illinois Women’s Open.
The final nine holes saw the leaderboard change ever so dramatically. LPGA touring pro Nicole Jeray, who trailed playing companion and second-round leader Samantha Postillion by four shots making the turn, made the last of her three inward-nine birdies — this one from 12 feet out — to force a playoff with Elise Swartout.
Jeray, of Berwyn, recorded her second 2-under 70 of the 54-hole tournament Friday at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville to deadlock Swartout, the former Western Michigan standout, at 3-under 213.
Chelsea Harris, of Normal and Caroline Powers, of Michigan, each missed out of the playoff by one stroke after respective final rounds of 70 and 71.
After Jeray and Swartout had routine two-putt pars on the first playoff hole, Swartout drilled a sand iron from 82 yards to three feet on the par-4 second hole.
“I couldn’t have asked for an easier putt,” Swartout said.
“I knew she wasn’t going to miss it,” Jeray said.
Jeray had to sink a devilishly fast, downhill 20-footer to extend any realistic hope of continuing the playoff.
“I can’t believe I left it short and left,” Jeray said of her effort. “It was right in the jaws.”
Swartout, who shot the low round of the three-day tournament with a 69 in regulation, drained the straight-in putt for her first pro championship, earning one-fifth of the $25,000 purse.
Postillion was 4-under through 27 holes, only to fight a case of pull-hooks and missed short putts in her inward-nine 40.
The Illinois senior rebounded after missing her first six greens in regulation with a birdie at No. 16.
Postillion missed a golden opportunity on 17, and another hooked drive on 18 left her three shots out of the playoff.
“I could feel that my swing was losing itself,” Postillion said. “I missed the line and speed (on a par putt that resulted in a disastrous double-bogey on No. 13 that cost her the lead for good).”
Jeray was on in regulation on eight of her inward-nine holes, capitalizing with birdies at Nos. 10 and 16 that set up the fateful birdie-4 at the last to force the playoff.
“I knew anything can happen,” Jeray said. “I have more experience than anyone else in the field.”
Erika Malik, like Postillion a product of Hinsdale Central, started four shots out of the lead.
“I thought I could shoot something under par for the day,” the Elmhurst resident said. “I couldn’t get things going. I would have liked to have been in the top 10.”
Malik had to settle for top-20 status after a final-round 77.
Neuqua Valley sophomore Jessica Yuen barely missed the same status after slicing six shots off her second-round total with a level-par 72.
“My putting (was the difference),” Yuen said. “The greens (at Mistwood) are always going to be tough. I got a lot of help from my caddie (Ricky Costello).”
Jenny Niemiec had issues with the slick greens in losing the six shots she gained after a superlative 72 on Thursday.
“I played well, but just didn’t make the putts like I did (on Thursday),” Niemiec said.