Raab & Baranczyk Capture First Major

            Raab, a 17-year-old from Hartland, hit all the fairways he needed to on Monday for a one-stroke win at the Lake Arrowhead Invitational in Nekoosa. Raab shot a final-round 73 Monday to go with his 74 Sunday on the Pines Course, good for a 147 total. Tyler Leach of Spring Valley, the first round leader, finished second (71-77–148).

The Boys Division was essentially decided on the par-5 17th hole Monday afternoon, where both Raab and Leach hit their tee shots wide right. Both shots ended up a few feet into the woods, but Raab clearly had a better chance to escape. Raab chipped out, leaving about 230 yards to the green. He hit a 4-iron over the green from there and failed to get up, recording a bogey-6.
Leach wasn’t so fortunate, as his attempted escape from the woods clipped a couple branches, leading to more trouble.

“I got pretty unlucky on that hole,” Leach said. “Where (the tee shot) ended up, I had a tree in front of my ball so I couldn’t chip out straight sideways. I had to try to thread the needle and go forward. I thought if I hit a hard shot it would fly right through there. I don’t know what I hit, but it kicked back into the long stuff by maybe a foot, so I had to take an unplayable (lie). “That was what probably lost it for me – making a (double- bogey) there.”

Raab admitted he was trying to keep track of the scoring on the final holes. Problem was, walking off the 17th green, Raab got his numbers wrong. “At that point I thought Tyler and I were tied,” Raab said. “I didn’t know I was beating him by one. “We both made par on 18, and I thought we were going to a playoff.” Then Raab found out he had won the tournament. Raab got off to a fast start on front nine Monday, reeling off three birdies in his first seven holes. He made four bogeys on the back nine for his 1-over finish. He admitted the Lake Arrowhead courses set up well for him.

“I’m a pretty straight driver of the golf ball, so it’s good to come to a tight course,” he said.

There was a tie for third place in the Boys Division at 149. Sean Murphy of Middleton shot 78-71) and Jack Lutze of Brookfield shot 73-76.

In the Girls Division, 14-year-old Jo Baranczyk held on to win by a single stroke. Baranczyk, who lives in Green Bay, took the lead with a first-round 73 on the Pines Sunday before finishing with an 80 Monday for a 153 finish.

Emily Lauterbach of Hartland almost chased down Baranczyk, shooting a final-round 73 to finish one stroke back at 154. Courtney Matschke of Franklin finished third (77-79–156) and Lexi Meade of Eau Claire was fourth (78-82–160).

Baranczyk did her best work on the front nine Sunday, where she reeled off two birdies and an eagle on the Pines Course, leading to a front-nine 34. She bookended that with a difficult final nine on the Lakes Monday, where she stumbled home in 42 strokes.

Baranczyk won the Girls Division at the Lake Arrowhead Invitational two years ago, so she knows the courses well. She also knows she scores better on the Pines than she does on the Lakes.

“Every year, I shoot (a lower score) at the Pines Course, and this course just seems to play hard for me,” she said outside the Lakes clubhouse. “The wind messed with me a lot today, and my putting just was not on.”

Beginning last season, the annual WPGA Junior Foundation event at Lake Arrowhead took on new significance. The boys and girls winners now receive coveted invitations to the PGA National Junior Championship, held this summer at Kearney Hill GC in Kentucky. Raab and Baranczyk earned those exemptions.

When asked if the PGA National event was a goal of hers this season, Baranczyk said: “Oh, for sure. It’s always in my head, and I’m very excited about going.”

Additionally, the top five finishers in both divisions earned exemptions for the WPGA Morgan Stanley Tour Championship, scheduled for Aug. 1-2 at Washington County GC in Hartford.

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