Amber Sieber had always been so composed, despite never winning the Womens City Golf Tournament.
Even as she watched so many of the other great players from her generation, former high school and college rivals Michelle Smith, Michelle Gerbasich and Kasey Gant win it, Sieber had been nonchalant in her typical easygoing fashion.
But after sinking the winning putt on the first playoff hole Monday – she bogeyed the par-5 first hole to defeat Smith in ugly extra play – Sieber was anything but composed.
Im in shock right now, said Sieber, 33. I cant believe its real. This is for my husband, my grandpa and my family, and I just cant believe it.
Sieber came into the day in second place and five strokes back of Smith, a four-time champion in the Fort Wayne Womens Golf Association event, which has taken place since 1931.
Sieber finished the three-day tournament at 5-under 214, including a final-round 2-under 71 at Brookwood Golf Club, which was set up at 5,659 yards, 295 yards longer than it had been the first two days.
I didnt think this was going to happen, said Sieber, a former player at Ohio State. I was out in my garden this morning, watering, in my huge tomato garden, and I said, Lord, just help me do this today. I think this would be so amazing if I could win. I dont know how I can pull five strokes off. But I did, and it was just meant to be.
There was nothing astonishing about Siebers round. In fact, she said, I didnt have any spectacular holes. I just stayed down the middle as much as I could.
Smith, on the other hand, had one of the most magnificent shots and then gaffes in the history of Fort Wayne golf.
Sieber had pulled into a tie with Smith after she birdied to go to 4 under on the par-4 16th. After facing the pressure of that, and dealing with unbearably slow play all day, Smiths second shot on the par-5 18th, from about 150 yards out, came to rest within 3 feet.
After seeing Sieber birdie, though, there were audible gasps from the crowd as Smith hooked her potential winning eagle putt to finish with a 76.
It did get away, said Smith, 37. That last putt, it will haunt me for a while.
And so ensued what was believed to be the first playoff since the City Tournament changed from match to stroke play in 1999.
It wasnt pretty; Smith topped her second shot and went into the sand on her third, while Sieber had to chip out of the trees on her approach and then lipped a par putt.
Despite failing to join Pat Wright, Jean Saint, Pat McGary and Helen Greiner as those who have won the tournament five times or more – Wright has the most wins, nine – Smith at least came away with a good lesson for the men and women golfers she coaches at Saint Francis.
You still have to make that putt, Smith said. I can honestly say I didnt even hit the putt (on No. 18). I tried to coast it in and thought it would be done. That is not even the way I play and Im not sure why I did that.
Even Sieber, the champion, ached for Smith, a former player at Coastal Carolina.
I feel for her, said Sieber, who had finished second in the tournament a few times. Shes a great player. Im proud of her. She just didnt play her best today.
And now Sieber will have the pressure of defending her title, since the last two champions, Sarah Prascsak and Kristi OBrien, both won back-to-back years.
Or, we could have another first-time winner, such as Karley Dobis or Lauren Biedak, who tied for third at 2-over 221.
Dobis, a Ball State recruit, had a final-round 71.
Biedak, a former IHSAA state champion, had a 77.