After winning the Fort Wayne Women’s City Golf Championship in record fashion by 10 strokes, Waynedale’s own Kristi O’Brien has her sites set high for her Junior year at IUPUI college down in Indy. Her overall summer was a solid success in golf, and her work ethic was off the charts! Like most golfers, she had some low points over the long summer grind. But she improved dramatically overall, and this improvement started kicking in after she got a brand new set of Ping irons, new wedges and a new Scotty Cameron Putter—-pink, of course!
After a mediocre first 2 rounds in the Indiana Women’s State AM in Anderson, she fired a final round 2 under par 70 to move up to 9th place overall—the highest finish of any N. E. Indiana contestants. Then Kristi followed that up with her City Championship win shooting a 14 under par total that included a 68 and a final round 64!
this fall and spring Kristi wants to continue her winning ways at college, both individually and especially as a team. IUPUI has yet to capture a Golf team championship in the school’s history. Kristi and standout Sophomore Jordan Woods thinks they can break through that barrier, especially with 2 strong golfers who red-shirted last year—–Lauren Kuss and Kristi’s longtime close friend Jordan Essman of Angola. Both will be strong college golfers, and they too know how to win. If they’re all on their game, those 4 should compete with the top teams all year. Plus, Kristi is coming off a record setting Sophomore year, becoming the 1st IUPUI golfer to win more than 1 tournament.
However, a year ago at this time, the last thing on O’Brien’s mind was to break any IUPUI record. Kristi was just thankful to the Lord that she survived a 70 mph crash off I-69 virtually unscathed last summer. But then she went on and won a college-age summer tournament in late August 2009 at GlenDarin in Angola by 7 shots firing 75-79. Late fall, during her college season, she became only the third IUPUI female golfer ever to win a college season tournament.
The Pittsburgh area tournament was played on a brutal, but stunningly beautiful Pete Dye layout nestled in the Pennsylvania Hills. This Montour Heights CC is ranked by Golf Digest as one of the 50 toughest courses in America! Most all putts do indeed “break towards the valley,” something all newbees have to experience first hand for themselves before they actually believe it! Both days of this 36-hole tourney were cold with wind chills in the 30’s. Kristi’s 1st round was a solid 80, good for a 3rd place tie, only one shot out of the lead. In the final round, she played well but struggled with her favorite club, the putter. After going 7 over for the day through the 1st 12 holes, her chances for her 1st D-1 College Tournament win seemed shaky at best. However, O’Brien parred the final 6 holes, making putts on holes16 and 17 from 14 and 8 feet respectively. Then she hit an errant tee shot on 18 that found the trees on this toughest hole of the course. As she was heading towards the trees-not knowing if she could find her ball, she knew that she was facing trouble. But walking up to the ball, Kristi kept telling herself “I’m GOING to par this hole! I’m NOT going to accept NOT parring this hole! There’s NO WAY that I’m going to bogey this hole!!” She hit a marvelous long recovery shot down the right rough, and then a flop shot that even Phil Mickelson (and John Matera) would have been proud of! She calmly sunk a tricky downhill 7-footer for a 79 and her 1st college win – by a single shot. Talk about “mind over matter”!
This first tournament win motivated her to start working harder than ever over the winter on her game. Fueled by all those “practice with a purpose” type golf workouts, Spring 2010 was nothing short of sensational. After a solid season opening 13th place in the Don Benbow Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida, Kristi was named “Golfer of the Week” in the Summit Conference. Riding a new high in confidence, she really caught fire. She and teammate Jordan Woods tied for 1st place and were declared co-champions at the Mission Inn Spring Fling tournament near Orlando. Kristi shot 83-79 (162), coming from behind on day 2. Then back in Indy, O’Brien won her 2nd tournament in a row, beating 55 other golfers! Kristi’s ball striking was almost perfect, while carving out a strong 74 on a tough Prestwick course that used to host the boys IHSAA state finals. Then after another top 10 finish in a cold and rainy day in Detroit, she set her goal to win the prestigious Summit Conference Golf Championship in the final event of the school year. Though she didn’t accomplish this lofty goal, Kristi did play extremely well on this long 6215 yard Robert Trent Jones layout in Tulsa, OK.
Now this D-1 Summit Conference has alot of super golfers. But the winner shot 76-77-75 (228) over the 54-hole event. That’s a real high score for a winner, which is a testament to how tough this course played! Kristi led her IUPUI team in each round, shooting an 82-78-79 for 11th place out of 50 contestants. She never had a 3-putt in all 54 holes! Her 3 round score (239) was IUPUI’s 3rd best all-time score in a 54-hole event. Considering she had never seen this course before, she did absolutely wonderful.
What a super sophomore year O’Brien had, carving out the 2nd lowest average in school history. Even more impressive is that Kristi now holds the IUPUI career record for tournament victories — and all 3 wins came in her 2nd year! That sophomore year will be hard to follow. Can she top last year? Well, one thing is for sure. Kristi CAN’T WAIT to get back into competition, and find out!