CEDAR RAPIDS — Sierra Hargens has spent most of her summer working on her golf game.
Hargens, a senior-to-be at Indiana State, has put in many hours of practice. However, the one thing she hasn’t done is play tournament golf — until this weekend.
Based on her play in the two-day Cedar Rapids Women’s City Amateur, it appears the practice is paying off.
Hargens entered Saturday’s final round at Ellis Park Golf Course with a one-shot lead over Julie Buerman. After Buerman took a one-shot lead with back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes, Hargens took command en route to firing a 5-under-par 66 to win her third city title in four years by five shots, finishing 70-66-136. Buerman shot a 1-under 71 on Sunday to end up at 141.
Sarah Olberding (158) finished third.
“I hit my driver straight today, which I wasn’t doing (in Friday’s first round at Twin Pines Golf Course),” Hargens said. “Overall, it was a good round of ball-striking for me.”
Buerman, who was Hargens’ prep coach at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, put the pressure on early with the two quick birdies. Hargens leveled the score with a birdie at No. 5 and took the lead for good with a birdie on No. 9.
“She played a fantastic round,” Buerman said of her former pupil. “It’s a lot of fun to watch her play. She was the Iowa State Amateur champion last year and a Division I golfer.
“For me, at my age, to be that close to her, I think that was great.”
Playing against her former coach is not a stressful chore for Hargens.
“I’m pretty used to it by now,” she said. “We’ve played together quite a bit. It’s always fun playing with her. I’m getting better, she’s getting better and it is always a fun little competition between us.”
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Buerman kept the pressure on Hargens early on the back nine. After a Hargens birdie on 11 pushed the margin to two shots, Buerman, who bogeyed 12 to fall three back, rolled in a birdie at 13 only to see Hargens step up and match her, draining a long, left to right breaking putt for birdie.
Hargens followed that up with a beautiful tee shot on the short 14th hole, sticking it within 3 feet of the pin. She made the birdie putt that pushed the margin to four.
There won’t be much time for Hargens to celebrate her title. She heads out Sunday to Wayzata, Minn., to play in one of the 24 sectional qualifying tournaments around the country for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She plays Monday at Woodhill Country Club.
“I signed up for this tournament to get me ready for (the qualifying),” Hargens said. “It was nice to get out here with a little pressure on me to get ready for that qualifier.
Nancy Olberding (160) won the Senior Division by three shots over Jody Neuhaus and Kim Kieckhaefer. Jane Suiter (176) took top honors in the Super Senior Division.