Metamora native takes Peoria Women’s Championship

Bo Ryan
Vanessa Phillips competes in the Peoria Women’s Championship on Sunday afternoon at Donovan Golf course in Peoria.

Vanessa Phillips was walking again in Sunday’s cooler weather and not even a stumble on the final nine could stop the Lewis University senior from capturing her first Peoria Women’s Championship.

With her brother carrying her bag, plus mom, dad and an uncle marching each hole with her, Phillips used a 1-over-par 38 on the front nine to build a double-digit lead over her closest pursuers. The Metamora native followed with an untidy 42 on the back, which cut her final victory margin to five-strokes.

“I just wasn’t hitting my irons very solid on the back nine,” Phillips said. “Fortunately I was putting pretty well, and that helped pull me through.”

Phillips’ 80 gave her a three-day total of 228. Dunlap senior Lexi Hammerton shot the best score of the day with a 5-over 78 on Donovan’s 5,700-yard, par-73 layout to finish second at 233.

Deb Ferner (81) was third at 235 and Normal’s Chris Clark (80) fourth at 238.

Phillips started the day with a six-stroke lead over Ferner and a seven shot-advantage over Hammerton. Clark, who was playing in the next-to-last threesome, was 10 behind when play began.

A birdie on the 158-yard, par-3 third hole seemed to ignite Phillips. The deuce brought her back to even par and she played the next six holes at 1-over, bogeying only the 328-yard, par-4 seventh hole.

Meanwhile, Ferner was struggling as she triple-bogeyed the fifth and then bogeyed three of her last four holes on the front side for a 44 to fall 12 down. Hammerton was hanging in there at even par until she triple-bogeyed the eighth and bogeyed the ninth to fall 10 back.

On eight, Hammerton drove her ball into the right rough and shanked her second shot behind a garbage can by the ninth tee. Not sure if she was entitled to relief, Hammerton played the ball as it lied and proceeded to make seven.

“I don’t know what happened on eight,” Hammerton said of her hosel shot. “I thought I made a good swing, but those shots happen in golf.

“And when I was next to the garbage can, I should have known I was entitled to relief.”

Both Hammerton and Ferner shot 37s on the back nine.

Phillips started her back side bogey-par-bogey-triple bogey. Her lead after the triple on No. 13 shrunk to five.

“I hit my third shot off the hosel and out of bounds on 13,” Phillips said. “After that, my focus was just on making pars.”

Phillips made pars on four her last five, bogeying only the par-4 15th.