When Lisa Grimes sealed her dominant victory by birdieing the 18th hole at Tuesday’s Minnesota Women’s State Open Championship, she congratulated the two other competitors in her group with hugs.
Stiff handshakes are usually the norm, but the seasoned professional wasn’t uncomfortable showing warmth. After all, she is a grandmother who just turned 54. The runner-up, by contrast, is a recent high school graduate who just turned 19.
Grimes finished with a 4-under-par 142 at Town and Country in St. Paul and was the only golfer below par — and she did it in both rounds, shooting 72 and 70. She has won a record four of the 14 Women’s State Opens.
Amateur Kenzie Neisen celebrated her recent graduation from New Prague High School with a second-place place finish, eight shots back. Neisen starts college at Oklahoma State in a couple of weeks.
“I forget about age when I’m out there,” Grimes said of her young competition. “But man, a lot of these are the age of my daughter.”
Three-time LPGA Tour winner Martha Nause, 59, was third at 151.
Grimes, of Alexandria, has a 26-year-old daughter, 16-year-old son and three grandchildren. While the family splits time between Minnesota in the summer and Arizona in the winter — Grimes attended Arizona State — she didn’t have a large group of supporters cheering her on.
Her son Gage, one of the top boys’ golfers in Arizona, is competing at the Resorters tournament this week at the Alexandria Golf Club, where Grimes is the director of instruction. Lisa left the course Tuesday, carrying her own bag with glass trophy encased in a cardboard box safely in tow.
“I have to get back there and help,” said Grimes, who as Lisa Kluver won the girls’ golf state tournament in 1978. “I’m working once I get back.”
Grimes said her son, who was Arizona state high school runner-up as a sophomore last fall, takes golf advice as well as a teenage boy can, but her teenage opponents at the championship were much more eager to learn.
“She totally deserves to win,” Neisen said. “She played great, and I think the golf course is kind of tough.”
Grimes hadn’t played Town and Country in five or six years.
“I was a little unsure yesterday where to hit it but got by with things,” Grimes said. “Today I was a little more confident.”
She said she felt her play in the final round was steady and consistent, especially starting out with a par and birdie on the first two holes. In all, she birdied four holes, including the last two, and bogeyed one.
Grimes will compete next week in Indiana in the Legends Championship as part of the LPGA’s senior tour. She called this tournament a solid tuneup for that event.
“Any win is good in golf because you lose more than you win,” she said. “I appreciate every win that I get.”
Brenna Lervick of Chanhassen, who will be a sophomore at South Dakota this fall, played in the final pairing with Grimes but placed 12th after shooting 83 Tuesday. While she was disappointed in her performance, she said the chance to observe Grimes was some consolation.
“It was kind of cool to watch and see what she did and how she played,” Lervick said. “She just takes her time and knows the kind of shots she needs to hit and all that stuff, which is what I think really makes the difference between an amateur and a professional.”