By Rick Jenkins

WEST ORANGE, N.J. Although 20 year-old Kristina Wagner of Mattawang Golf Club came into today’s Women’s Public Links Championship at Francis Byrne Golf Course as the defending champion, she was not brimming with confidence. She sat out the competitive season at High Point University in North Carolina this year where she plays on the women’s golf team, so she wasn’t sure how her game would hold up under the pressure of a State competition. But hold up it did. She captured the title following a one-hole sudden death playoff against Jane Kuhfuss of Rolling Greens Golf Club.

“I got off to a really good start today, and that surprised me a little,” Wagner said, referring to her front nine 35, or 1-under par. Although she ran into some difficulties with her putter on the back nine to shoot 43, for an 18-hole total of 78 (+6), her ball striking was solid all day. “The greens are very undulating here, which gave me speed control problems, especially on the back side,” she noted. But the 78 was good enough to tie for the lead and get her into the playoff with Kuhfuss, who played very well as a member of the second flight to shoot 78 and contend for the title. In the one hole playoff on Byrne’s tenth hole, Wagner made a solid, regulation par while Kuhfuss missed the green short and made bogie.

With today’s victory, Wagner becomes the first player to successfully defend her title in the Women’s Public Links and also becomes its first multiple winner.

Today’s field was divided into three flights based on handicap. Amber Smith of Freeway Golf Course and Joy Passalacqua of Pinch Brook Golf Course were runners-up in the first flight and finished tied for third overall with 79s. Kuhfuss won the second flight with Kathryn Bartsche of Eagle Ridge Golf Club finishing as the runner-up. In the third flight, Lillian Bertoldo of Suneagles took the honors and Lelia Nelson of Rutgers Golf Course was the runner-up.

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