Katie Strickland

Katie Strickland of Lincoln became the youngest champion of the Nebraska Women's Match Play Tournament on Wednesday at the Fremont Golf Club. She defeated Wahoo native Lauren Thiele 6 and 4.

Katie Strickland played with a maturity beyond her years Wednesday at the Fremont Golf Club.

The Lincoln Southwest sophomore-to-be defeated Lauren Thiele, who will be a sophomore at Wahoo Neumann, 6 and 4 to win the 96th Nebraska Women’s Match Play Championship.

Although Strickland is the fourth junior champion of the tournament, at 15 she is the youngest. It is her second NGA title, after winning the 2018 Nebraska Girls’ Amateur Championship.

“I found out (about being the youngest to win it) and it made the whole experience even cooler,” Strickland said. “I’m honored to have that.”

Strickland got off to a fast start. She won the first hole and a birdie on the par-4 No. 5 put her 4-up. The advantage grew to 6-up with a birdie on No. 7 and a win on the par-5 No. 8.

Thiele cut into the deficit with a par putt to win No. 10. Strickland won No. 12 before Thiele prevailed on No. 13 with a par. Strickland closed it out by hitting her approach shot close on No. 14 and converting a two-putt par for the win.

Strickland said she played solid fundamental golf.

“Getting on the green where I needed to be, and if I didn’t get on the green, I was chipping pretty well,” she said. “That really helped my confidence.”

Strickland is the first Lincoln golfer to win the tournament since Anna Christenson, who took the title when she was 17 in 2007.

Strickland said the win was redemption for last season when she was knocked out in the quarterfinals.

“I was coming into (match play), going to try again, just thinking last year I didn’t quite get it there,” she said. “I went home earlier than I wanted to, and this year I knew I was going to give it my all and try to get into that final round and see how it goes from there.”

Fremonter Patty Meister won the championship of the Net Division First Flight. She downed Shelly Miratsky of Bellevue 5 and 3. Gay Gross-Rhode of Omaha beat Bev Guzinski of Tekamah 4 and 3 in the Second Flight final while Kathy Garrelts beat fellow Kearney resident Amy Bear 2 and 1 in the Third Flight.

In the Founders’ Flight of the Gross Division, Katie Ruge beat fellow Omahan Jalea Culliver 5 and 4. Former University of Nebraska golf coach Robin Krapfl of Lincoln won the Senior Gross Division with a 5 and 3 win over Debbie Wilbeck of Omaha.

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