Knaebel aces final round

Thursday, July 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:15 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A hole in one is rare, but Wednesday at the Country Club of Missouri, Denise Knaebel of Moberly made it look easy.

A storm front threatened the final round of the 66th Missouri Women’s Amateur Championship, but as the clouds parted, more than the sun began to shine.

Knaebel, who will be a junior on the Missouri women’s team, won the championship with a 142, including a hole in one on the 13th hole.

Knaebel, who was tied with Barbara Berkmeyer of St. Louis at 72 after Tuesday’s qualifying, shot a solid front nine Wednesday, then birdied the 12th hole and aced the 13th to gain the lead.

“I guess that hole in one helped,” Knaebel said. “I’ve never done that before, and when you get a spark like that it’s kind of easy to just keep going with it.”

Knaebel went on to shoot a 70 for her first tournament win since starting college. Her parents, Mary and Joe Knaebel have never missed one of her tournaments, and Mary Knaebel was all smiles Wednesday.

“You can’t describe the feeling,” Mary Knaebel said. “She is playing unbelievable. That was her first hole in one, ever.”

Mark Munzlinger, Denise Knaebel’s boyfriend and caddie, who runs track and cross-country for Missouri, said he was impressed with her day.

“This is the best I’ve ever seen her play,” Munzlinger said “Today her putting was pretty on. If she missed, she was close.”

Knaebel said she felt she was due for a good round.

“I missed some putts, but I made some putts, and I got some good breaks,” she said. “I’ve been practicing a lot lately so I guess it was just my day to come on.”

Next week, Knaebel will compete in the World University Golf Championship in Thailand. She is one of five American women in the tournament and was picked based on her performances during the college season. She set the school record for lowest scoring average at 74.6 last season, the lowest in the Big 12 Conference, and was named All Big 12.

“I’m really excited now that I’m playing pretty well,” Knaebel said. “I know I can score pretty well.”

Ellen Port of St. Louis, last year’s Women’s Amateur champion, placed second this year with 147. Lindsey Letzig, 20, from Richmond, came in third with 150 points.

Letzig, a junior at Coastal Carolina University, said her goal was to place in the top five. She competes in tournaments throughout the summer to stay competitive and work on her game.

“I felt really good, actually,” Letzig said. “My driver has been good to me all year.”

Tonya Choate 18, from Mount Vernon, tied for fourth with Berkmeyer at 151. Choate will play for Drury next season.

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