Sarah Burnham had some catching up to do.
A course record made it easy.
The 17-year-old senior-to-be at Wayzata High School trailed by two shots entering Thursday’s final round of the Women’s State Open, but she carded five birdies for a 5-under 67 at the Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake. That gave her a two-round total of 137 and a three-shot victory over defending champion Lisa Grimes of Alexandria.
Martha Nause, the 58-year-old former LPGA Tour pro and golf coach at Macalester, had a first-round lead by two strokes after shooting 68 on Wednesday, but a second-round 74 left her in third at 142.
Burnham, playing out of Rush Creek, said her irons were the best part of her game and the key to her low score Thursday.
The round, she said, was one of the best of her career, despite some poor putting. Fortunately for Burnham, she left herself some short putts down the stretch.
“I had a lot of tap-in birdies, which are nice,” Burnham said.
In front of a small crowd gathered at the clubhouse, the soft-spoken Burnham thanked her caddie and her parents and posed for photos with her trophy.
Last August at Mendakota Country Club, Burnham rallied in the final day of the Minnesota Women’s State Amateur to force a playoff, which she eventually won. In 2012, Burnham was selected as one of the Minnesota Golf Association’s Players of the Year.
Burnham didn’t have a single bogey Thursday while Nause, whose disappointing day caused her to slip down the leaderboard, had three.
“My putting was awful,” Nause said. “I just couldn’t get the ball to the hole. I hit the ball OK, not great. I just didn’t quite get in the groove today.”
Nause played on the LPGA Tour for 22 years before coaching men’s and women’s golf at Macalester. After 12 years there, Nause retired from coaching in the spring of 2012 so she could focus on her own game.
“I had some opportunities to play some tournaments, and when I was coaching I didn’t get a chance to practice at all,” said Nause, who said she’s played golf for more than 50 years. “So I just decided it was time to turn over the reins to somebody else.”
Nause said her next tournament will be an LPGA Legends Tour event in Maine. On her way out Thursday, she stopped to shake the young winner’s hand, congratulating her on a record-breaking round.
Burnham, who has committed to play golf at Michigan State, will attempt to defend her 2012 Minnesota Women’s State Amateur title next week at Dellwood Country Club.