Triumphs Over Youth
38, Eliminates 13-Year-Old Isabelle Lendl
– Not many sports offer the opportunity for a 38-year-old to take
on a 13-year-old eighth-grader in a fair and equitable competition.
|Kathy Hartwiger, 38, focused hard over
her last eight holes to edge 13-year-old Isabelle Lendl, 3 and
1. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)
is one of the few exceptions. On Wednesday at The Kahkwa Club, the
youngest player remaining in the U.S. Women's Amateur field faced
the oldest in the opening round of match play.
time, experience trumped youth, but it wasn't all that easy. Isabelle
one of five daughters of former tennis great Ivan
gave 2002 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Kathy
a challenge. In fact, the
resident had a two-hole lead through the first nine holes, only
to watch her veteran opponent rally to win five of the first six
holes in a 3-and-1 victory.
turning point came at the par-4 13th when Lendl, playing in her
first Women's Amatuer and second USGA competition (she failed to
make match play at the Girls' Junior last month in Texas), pulled
a 5-foot par putt to go down one hole. It was the first time the
entire match that the poised youngster showed any outpouring of
emotion. At the par-5 14th hole, Lendl again missed a 9-footer for
par to lose the hole.
helped a lot,” said Hartwiger, who faces 18-year-old Brittany
of Seminole, Fla.,
in round two on Thursday morning. “I really didn't get nervous at
all because I knew there were a lot of holes [left] and I've been
up plenty on people. There's always a place, I think, where they
let you back in. And I knew that would probably come and I just
had to step in when she opened the door.”
has been on the other side of comebacks. She owned a 4-up lead on
in the second round of last
year's Women's Amateur, only to lose, 2 up.
time, Hartwiger kept applying the pressure, hitting a 7-wood at
the par-3 15th hole to within inches of the hole. Danny
a local caddie who is on Hartwiger's bag this week, actually talked
her out of hitting a 4-wood, knowing that she has been long with
her tee shots on that hole.
|Isabelle Lendl showed poise and tenacity
far beyond her 13 years this week at the U.S. Women's Amateur,
her second-ever USGA competition. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)
kept the match going at 16 by holing her only birdie of the match,
a 40-footer from the front of the green. Hartwiger failed to hole
her chip shot from behind the green. At 17, Lendl pulled her drive
into the left rough behind some trees and was forced to punch out.
A double-bogey 6 led to a concession of Hartwiger's par putt.
played really well,” said
Lendl, who had her famous father on her bag this week. “I played
all right, so congratulations to her.”
it was Hartwiger who came away with newfound respect for Lendl.
On the front nine, Lendl converted several clutch par putts, including
a 12-foot downhiller at six, when it appeared that Hartwiger might
build a big lead. Hartwiger, however, missed a short par putt at
No. 5 and could not get up and down for par at seven to fall two
nine, Lendl two-putted from a very difficult spot from 40 feet above
the hole to earn another halve.
strong parts of her game are my strong parts,” said Hartwiger. “I
just told her I don't want to play her next year. She's good. But
look who her dad is. She's got a lot of athletic ability anyway.
He really helps her out with the mental side. They are a good team
seems to have that same competitive
fire her dad possesses on the tennis court. Who could forget his
memorable comeback from a two sets to none deficit in the 1984 French
Open final against John McEnroe.
Today, Ivan Lendl
is one of the top players
on the celebrity circuit.
he has passed his passion for the game on to his daughters. Marika,
11, all love golf, while 13-year-old Caroline
's twin) and 6-year-old Nikki
have other interests, mainly
also has taught his daughters
proper etiquette and how to conduct themselves properly on the golf
course. Even though Isabelle
said she has never broken
or thrown a club, she did gesture once and it cost her dearly.
put my clubs in the garage for three months,” said Isabelle.
“I never did it again.”
the match, Ivan
made sure that Isabelle
didn't step in Hartwiger's line of putt and conceded a putt when
the situation called for it. Isabelle
also verbally said “great
shot” when Hartwiger hit one close, something you don't always see
from opponents in match play.
very much aware of that and he's teaching her [etiquette] as they
go,” said Hartwiger. “He's tremendous.
that hole (15) where I almost had the hole in one, he said [tongue
and cheek], ‘It's too bad you were up in front of the tee markers.'
I said, ‘Wouldn't that hurt.' He said, ‘I tell you, if you were,
I would never let my daughter call that on you. She would have to
tell you prior to you hitting or have to not see it.' I said, ‘Well,
you are a good dad.' ”
the Girls' Junior in July, Isabelle
has been separated from her
older sister. Marika reached the third round of match play at that
championship and has since competed in several American Junior Golf
Association events. The two talked on the phone once Tuesday night
and three times Wednesday morning before the match. Marika is in
area for an AJGA tournament.
both wished each other good luck,” said Isabelle.
“We have a healthy competition. We bet for chores.”
what she won for making match play this week, Isabelle
the week was a good learning experience despite the disappointment
of not advancing to the second round.
come a long way,” said Isabelle,
who has been playing the game for five years. “The experience that
[other players] give me by watching them … helps a lot.”
Hartwiger, the goal now is to get past round two, something she
has never done at the Women's Amateur in her distinguished career.
[streak] needs to be broken,” she said. “That's pretty much my entire
record. Every time I come and do that (lose in round two).”
Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments