Where is the next generation of women golfers coming from? We can look in our own backyard, as teenagers Olivia Loberg of Oregon and Abigail Rigsby of B.C. shoot some low numbers.
Abigail Rigsby Shoots Course Record 65, Wins BC Juvenile Girls at Spallumcheen
Abigail Rigsby of Courtenay, B.C. shot a new course record 6-under-par 65 at Spallumcheen Golf & Country Club recently to win the BC Juvenile Girls’ Championship by three strokes over Surrey’s Hannah Lee.
Rigsby had a spotless card, with six birdies, including a downhill 20-footer on her last hole that saw her better the previous course record, a 4-under-par 67 shot by Mary-Ann Hayward at the 2013 Canadian Senior Women’s Championship.
“I just found out at the scoring tent that I had set the new course record,” said Rigsby, who was playing her final tournament of the season and final BC Juvenile.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Rigsby as she was doused with a champion’s water shower by friends Megan Ratcliffe and Mary Parsons. “I’ve played some really good golf ever since the Canadians, where I broke par there for a round. I came back to my home course (Crown Isle) and shot a 69 and I’ve just played really well.”
Trailing by four strokes heading into the final round, Rigsby reeled off three straight birdies and overhauled Lee by the fifth tee box en route to her first BC Golf championship.
“I couldn’t believe all those putts dropped,” said Rigsby. “I can’t really explain it, but it felt good to get ahead.”
Rigsby, who started her round on the 10th hole, had several other birdie opportunities on her opening nine. After hitting a huge drive up the right side of the par-4 14th, she had a 15-foot birdie putt that just stayed out.
At the 15th, she had another makeable 12-foot birdie putt which wouldn’t fall. She would capitalize on the par-3 17th and finish her first nine in a solid 4-under-par 31.
After another birdie on the 5th, Rigsby could see victory in sight, even as she nervously played the par-5 8th. “I hit a really bad second there, but I still made par,” said Rigsby. “And I hit a couple nice shots on No. 9 and I was pretty happy to make that birdie.”
Lee couldn’t get anything going as she played the back nine with Rigsby and Alisha Lau. As Rigsby was making birdies to reel the Surrey native in, Lee made a bogey on the 12th hole and her four-shot cushion was gone.
But the day belonged to Rigsby, who couldn’t wait to get her new Titleist golf bag with 2015 Champion embroidered on it. “I needed a new golf bag,” said Rigsby. “It’s a great way to finish off my season.”
Olivia Loberg Shoots 66 at Tetherow
by Zack Hall
Olivia Loberg is accustomed to playing at a high level. But the 14-year-old’s recent casual round at Tetherow Golf Club in Bend that ended with a 6-under-par 66 was altogether different.
Playing from Tetherow’s 5,342-yard red tees, Loberg made the turn at a remarkable 4-under-par. Then on the drivable par-4 10th hole, she hit her tee shot just short of the green and converted the birdie.
“I knew then that something was coming,” said Loberg.
An incoming freshman at Summit High School in Bend, Loberg’s previous best was a 72 at Tetherow. But with the help of her caddie/father, Erik, Loberg managed to keep calm.
“When I got done with the round people were asking me how I did it,” Loberg said. “I honestly was so focused that I couldn’t remember what holes I birdied.”
In all, she carded seven birdies against one bogey, remarkable for such a young golfer on one of the Northwest’s toughest layouts.
“A 66 at Tetherow with the greens running at tournament speed – that is really tough to do,” said Chris van der Velde, Loberg’s instructor and Tetherow’s managing partner. “Being able to read and make putts at Tetherow is what makes the course so challenging. Olivia has a bright future in golf if she wants it.”
Loberg and her brother Jack, a senior at Summit, have been among the top golf prospects in Central Oregon since moving from Michigan in 2011.
A two-sport athlete, she dreams of playing on the LPGA Tour or the WNBA. Until then, though, she is already looking ahead to what else is next.
“I look forward to maybe moving on from there and try to work on more what I can do better,” said Loberg, who also plays basketball. “I just want to keep going with what I am doing.”
Zack Hall is a freelance golf writer who lives in Bend, Ore. He spent eight years covering golf for The Bulletin in Bend and is a member of the Oregon Golf Association’s executive committee.