Fort Loramie senior-to-be Emily Knouff repeated as Ladies Shelby County Open champion Saturday, but that accomplishment was somewhat anticlimactic to what she did one day earlier.
Knouff rarely plays from the red tees, preferring to hit from farther back on the tee in preparation for college golf (she’s committed to Ball State University). But in preparing for the Ladies County Open, she practiced from the red tees last week.
On Friday afternoon, she shot an 18-hole score of 67. When reporting the score to longtime club pro Rob Fridley, he immediately knew that it was a special round.
“I thought the ladies record out here was 69, and I thought there was quite a story behind it. So I called (former club pro) Bob Eilert to confirm,” said Fridley.
Eilert did just that, and it was an amazing story.
Back in 1975, one of the best women golfers in the world was JoAnne Carner. She would finish her career with 43 victories on the LPGA Tour, leading to her being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
One summer day that year, it seems Carner was in Shelby County for the purpose of having her Airstream serviced at its birthplace, Jackson Center. While there, she was driven to Shelby Oaks so she could play a round of golf. And when she finished, she shot a 69.
That club record stood at the Oaks for 41 years — until Knouff broke it Friday afternoon.
It was no small feat. Carner is the only woman to have won the U.S. Girls Junior, U.S. Women’s Amateur, and U.S. Women’s Open titles, and was the first person ever to win three different USGA (United States Golf Association) events. To put that in perspective, Tiger Woods is the only man to have won the equivalant of three USGA titles.
It actually served to overshadow the reason she was out on the course this week — to win the Ladies County Open, something she was heavily favored to do.
She went out and shot a 37 on the front nine Saturday, and 33 on the back nine for a final score of 70, and that was 18 strokes better than her closest competitor.
“I love this tournament,” Knouff said. “It’s fun because I don’t get to play out here during the high school season (Fort Loramie’s home course is Arrowhead). I felt good today. Everything was working. But I still have a lot of things that need work.”
She has been busy playing in tournaments all over this summer, taking her to places like the OSU Gray course, the Dayton Country Club, Darby Creek, and a lot more. She remains quite humble, saying “I won a few of them,” and nothing more.
She didn’t start playing the game until the summer before her seventh-grade year, so she actually hasn’t been playing all that long.
“I decided I was going to take a lesson, and I don’t think my parents thought I would like it,” she said. “I always played basketball before. But I loved it, and now I’m out here (Shelby Oaks) all the time. Rob, Craig (Seving) and Nate (Fridley) just make it fun, and I owe so much to all of them.”
She has qualified for the Girls State Golf Tournament in two of her three high school years so far, shooting a 158 each time. That was good enough for an eighth-place tie last year and an 11th-place tie her freshman year.
When talking about goals for the coming high school season, however, she didn’t want to talk about herself.
“We should have a good team,” she said.
When pressed about individual goals, she added “I just want to play well and have a successful season before moving on to college.”
Ladies County Open
Saturday at Shelby Oaks
First flight — 1. Emily Knouff 70, 2. Ellen Joslin 88, 3. (tie) Karen Dickman, Melissa Henderson 89, 5. Tina Bulle 94, 6. Beth Raterman 99.
Low net — (tie) Ellen Joslin, Melissa Henderson
Second flight — 1. Rachel Reier 98, 2. Pris Reierr 102, 3. LuAnn Fultz 103, 4. (tie) Nancy Walter, Denise Welker 106, 6. Joanie Metz 111.
Low net — 1. Denise Welker, 2; Joanie Metz.
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818