By Frank Foreman
CONNEAUT LAKE —
Lori Mort has been competing in the Oakland Beach Women’s Invitational since 1991, and in that span has made her mark on the tournament in a big way, having won five times during that run heading into this year’s contest.
Now, Mort will need two hands to count her OBWI championships.
Tied with Becky Barnes after 11 holes Tuesday, Mort dug in and pulled away down the stretch to claim the OBWI title with a two-round total of 158, four stokes better than Barnes.
Both Mort and Barnes shaved two strokes off their Monday totals, with Barnes posting a 162 for the tournament, one ahead of Carolyn Thompson’s 163. Marilyn Woods shot a 166 while Diane Stickell had a much improved day, finishing five strokes better than her Monday total, and rounding out the top five with a 171.
The difference on the back nine started on hole No. 15, where Mort birdied to put the pressure on Barnes. That pressure led to Barnes taking a risk on No. 16, a risk that didn’t pay off as Barnes triple bogeyed the hole, and allowed Mort to play it safe on the final two holes to take the victory.
“I didn’t want to get into any major trouble (on the final two holes),” Mort said. “The 17th is always hard to play, and I was glad I bogeyed. On No. 18, I just grabbed the driver and wanted to get the approach shot below the hole, and it all worked out.”
Mort’s game was solid all day long, shooting a final round 78, the only golfer to accomplish a score in the 70s during the tournament. Though the putting was just as difficult as the first round, Mort found a simple solution to that problem: Just chip it in.
“I had two chip-ins, and that really helped,” Mort said. “I still three-putted three greens, so the chips saved me.”
Mort seemingly had everything working her way Tuesday, and Barnes’ round wasn’t too shabby either. It simply came down to time running out, and Barnes knowing she had to make a move. Unfortunately for Barnes, it just didn’t work out.
“I took a bad triple bogey on 16. Lori was playing great golf and I was pressing, knowing I had to do something,” Barnes said. “I tried to eagle No. 16 and it didn’t happen. Lori is a great golfer, and was the better golfer today.”
Mort was indeed the better golfer Tuesday, and it was her focused mindset the kept her from losing the lead when Barnes was making her charge.
“I try to stay focused on my game. I usually have an idea where everybody else is at, but I still have to hit every shot,” Mort said. “If you have a bad shot, you need to let it go and think about the next stroke. I stayed focused through 18 holes.”
Though the top grouping of golfers provided excellent competition and a great finish, strong performances throughout the field highlighted the tournament.
Sue Homol put together a two-day total of 175 to take the top spot in the AA Flight, while Linda Reade was 13 strokes better than the next closest golfer in the A Flight. Molly Capraro (199) finished on top in the B Flight while Stacy Waid’s 207 was good enough for a C Flight victory.
Scores aside, the OBWI was deemed to be yet another success by the golfers, and it’s easy to see why. Good competitive action and a friendly atmosphere provide a great backdrop for the long-running, successful tournament.
“Coming here and playing with all of these ladies really just warms my heart,” Thompson said, who was in second place after the first day of competition. “It’s a great event with great people, and it’s really just a lot of fun.”
Barnes agreed, adding that the competitive nature of the event is what keeps her coming back.
“It’s championship play, and anybody has a shot at winning. Anybody can do it on any given day,” Barnes said. “It’s just a fun group of girls who run a great program here. Oakland Beach does a great job.”