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CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLF ASSOCIATION

For Everyone Who Plays the Game

Midwest Golf House Contact: Casey Richards
11855 Archer Avenue (630) 685-2324
Lemont, IL 60439 crichards@cdga.org
Contact: Tim Merrick
(630) 685-2302
tmerrick@cdga.org
Contact: Jacob Bomeli
(630) 685-2345
jbomeli@cdga.org
 
For Immediate ReleaseJune 12, 2024
 
LEE WITHSTANDS LATE PUSH, GOES WIRE-TO-WIRE TO EARN 91ST ILLINOIS STATE WOMEN’S AM GLORY 
 
Wednesday, June 12, 2024 - LONG GROVE, Ill. - Haeri Lee (Buffalo Grove) stood alone atop the 91st Illinois State Women’s Amateur Championship leaderboard following both of the first two rounds. She held a three-stroke advantage heading into Wednesday’s 18-hole finale at The Grove Country Club. Lurking in second, however, was 2019 and 2023 champion Sarah Arnold (Geneva).

Standing on the 14th tee, on the heels of four birdies in five holes by Arnold to climb into a tie for the lead, the 24-year-old faced her first real moment of adversity. A steam engine rolling down the tracks in the form of a two-time champion would be more than enough to shake anyone’s nerves. But, Lee was quick to remind herself of a key message.

Don’t give up now.

“Usually I’m not [paying attention to other scores], but I was this time around,” she admitted. “I told myself, whatever happens, I didn't want to regret any moment of it - let’s not give up and push through.”

Lee did just that, as she held on to capture the 91st iteration of the championship, and the first to be administered by the CDGA following a historic 90-year run by the Illinois Women’s Golf Association (IWGA). Her final-round 4-over 76, along with rounds of 72-70, positioned her at +2 overall, one shot clear of Arnold and five shots clear of final group-mate Carter Sichol (Winnetka). The victory also secured an exemption into this year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur. The former Drake University golfer pointed to the nerves as an asset coming down the stretch.

“It was a tough battle out there and I think all of the nervousness and jitters went away,” said Lee after the round. “[I’m] definitely relieved.”

Lee’s front nine started less than ideal, as she bogeyed three of her first eight holes. Her overnight lead of three strokes withstood the slip-up, however, as Arnold paired two bogeys and a double bogey on the par-3 fourth with a birdie on the par-5 sixth. With a sizeable lead still in hand nearing the turn, Lee wasn’t content with where she stood.

“I knew I had to make a move, I needed a birdie,” said of her 12-foot birdie make on the par-4 ninth. “I just continued to tell myself ‘Hey, let’s battle.’”

That hole was also a kick-starter for Arnold, too, who followed a lengthy birdie on No. 9 with a chip-in red figure on No. 10. The Western Kentucky Hilltopper then added more birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 to pull even with the leader.

Now a two-horse race, it was game on.

Both Lee and Arnold bogeyed the par-4 16th before arriving at the 142-yard par-3 17th. Arnold then knocked an iron long and right, while Lee threw a dart to around 15 feet. Arnold then chipped on and two-putted for bogey. Left with a slick, downhill birdie look, Lee knocked it by before making the pressure-filled comebacker for par to take a one-shot lead heading to The Grove’s finale.

“I think it was a crucial putt,” said Lee. “It determined where I was going to end up. It was very much needed and I was very happy.”

On 18 with honors over Arnold, Lee lost her drive right into a fairway bunker, while Arnold hammered a tee shot to the middle of the fairway. A tough fairway metal out of the bunker fell short and right for Lee as Arnold lost her approach into a left greenside bunker. Lee then hit what she called “the best, solid shot I hit all day” to six feet. Although Lee missed the par putt, Arnold’s three-putt meant Lee had withstood the charge.

After registering to play in the State Women’s Am specifically for the chance to earn the newly added exemption into the U.S. Women’s Amateur before she heads to LPGA Tour Q-School later this summer, Lee’s longing to compete amongst the best amateurs in the world will finally come to fruition. The victory will also aid in her attempt to turn professional.

“I am super excited and super happy,” said Lee of playing in the U.S. Women’s Am, slated for Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Aug. 5-11. “It’s been a long-term goal of mine, I was always kind of close. This is the last opportunity [before attempting Q-School]. I was struggling for the last few years, so I think the win today was a confidence booster.”

Following this week’s event, the 2024 CDGA Championship schedule rolls on later this month. The 104th CDGA Amateur Championship, the oldest on the Association’s annual docket, heads to The Beverly Country Club in Chicago, June 24-27.
 
Chicago District Golf Association
The Chicago District Golf Association (CDGA) is authorized by the United States Golf Association (USGA) as the governing body for amateur golf in our region. The CDGA is a membership organization consisting of more than 106,000 individual golfers and 400 clubs in Illinois and parts of Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Golfers receive member offers, a Handicap Index® from the USGA® and competitive playing opportunities, while clubs receive Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ measuring services, turfgrass diagnostics and educational seminars. The CDGA also creates opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of the game through adaptive, therapeutic and youth Sunshine Programs, with an emphasis on serving disabled and veteran communities.
 
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Chicago District Golf Association
11855 Archer Avenue
Lemont, IL 60439

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