Lutze & Meade Win Tour Championship

Jack Lutze of Brookfield and Lexi Meade of Eau Claire both put together two consistent rounds of golf this week to win their respective divisions at the Morgan Stanley Tour Championship, the final major event on the Wisconsin PGA Junior Foundation schedule this summer.

Lutze and Meade were both in the lead following the first round Wednesday and held on for victory.

Lutze opened with a round of 68 on Wednesday, which he said was his career-low score. He followed with a 1-under-par 71 Thursday to finish at 139 and win the boys competition by a single stroke over Brock Hlinak of Kaukauna, who shot 70-70–140. Cameron Huss of Kenosha finished third among boys (72-73–140).

Meade recorded rounds of 73-74–147 to win the girls title by six shots over Lorenza Martinez of Menomonee Falls (78-75) and Madeline Koenig of Wales (75-78), who tied for second at 153.

Afterward, both medalists said they felt extremely comfortable at this year’s Morgan Stanley Tour Championship venue, Washington County GC in Hartford. Meade said the course reminds her of her home course, Wild Ridge GC in Eau Claire, while Lutze admitted he has first-hand knowledge of Washington County.

“My advantage was that this was one of our home courses during the high school season, so I’ve played practice rounds here,” said Lutze, who played on the Marquette High School golf team that won the WIAA Division I title in June. “And we had a tournament here earlier in the year, and we had sectionals here.”

Lutze, 16, said he shot 74 in both of his high school tournament rounds this spring at Washington County GC, which he knew wasn’t his best effort either time.

“I knew if I just played my game and trusted my swing and my lines, that I would be OK,” he added.

Lutze, by his own admission, was better than just OK in the first round. Lutze was 1 over par through the first five holes, but he birdied the next two and was off to the races. He added three more birdies on the back nine to finish with that sterling 68. Thursday he recorded three more birdies, against two bogeys, to shoot his 71.

“Today, I didn’t hit it as well, but off the tee I wasn’t in trouble, so I was able to miss in the right spot and score with my (short game),” Lutze said.

Lutze needed every one of those birdies because Hlinak wasn’t going to just give away this tournament. Hlinak came into the Tour Championship as one of the hottest junior golfers in the state of Wisconsin. He finished third in the Wisconsin State Amateur Championship at Minocqua CC a week ago and earlier this week shot 65 to win a Wisconsin State Open qualifier at Ridgeway CC.

Lutze said the 17th hole was key in the final round. After landing his ball in the fairway off the tee, he had about 230 yards to the hole on the 533-yard par-5.  “I knew the wind was with us, so I knew it would be helping quite a bit,” Lutze said. “I hit one of my best 4-irons I ever hit and it landed on the green.”             Lutze missed his first putt but tapped in for birdie. Good thing, too, because Hlinak, playing his approach from much closer, also made birdie. Both players made par on 18 to preserve Lutze’s win.

Like Lutze, Meade set herself up to win on Thursday with her play down the stretch Wednesday. Meade stumbled out of the gate with five bogeys on the front nine in the first round, but she put four birdies on the board on the back. “My scores yesterday were interesting,” Meade said with a laugh. “I had a front-nine 41, and then I went 32 on the back. So I could tell by the second nine yesterday that I was starting to hit a groove and playing well. So that carried over to today, and I played consistently today and made a lot of pars.”

Meade said she was able to keep her momentum going Thursday because she made a bunch of 3- and 4-footers when she needed them, keeping her away from any big numbers. She made two birdies and four bogeys in the final round.  “I just made a lot of good short putts to keep the momentum going,” she said. Thanks to their victories, Lutze and Meade also locked up spots on Team Wisconsin next summer when the Badger State competes once again in the Wisconsin-Minnesota Junior Cup Matches. The 22nd annual edition of the series will be played in Minnesota next season.

The Wisconsin State Open Championship, another tournament sponsored by Morgan Stanley, is scheduled for Aug. 20-22 at North Shore GC in Mena