Local caddy enjoys serving for champ

HARRIS – Bob Kleiman was one of 30 area volunteers who served as caddies at this weekend’s Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass.

He figured his duties were done Saturday when his player, Tanya Dergel of Durango, Mexico missed the cut when the second round ended. Instead, he picked up another bag Saturday night, landing that gig at home.

Kim Kaufman, who carried her own bag the opening two days, spent the week at the home of Bob and Jane Kleiman of Gladstone. His offer to carry her bag was accepted, but Kleiman said “I didn’t want to ruin a good thing” by changing what had been working for her.

“It is easy to be around her,” Kleiman said Sunday after Kaufman won the Symetra Tour event with a one-hole playoff conquest of Mitsuki Katahira of Tokyo.

“I know to keep my mouth shut,” said Kleiman.

Kaufman was fine with the offer and said “I knew Bob would be good because he’d carried before and he knows golf. I don’t think I’m a hard person to caddy for.”

Kleiman did not provide technical help or strategy, letting Kaufman handle that process along with club selection. “I know to keep my mouth shut,” said Kleiman.

“He was there for me to talk out loud with. I’m very thankful I had him along,” said Kaufman.

Kleiman thoroughly enjoyed walking 54 holes. “It is a treat to watch golf like this,” he said. “She played a picture-perfect round and she finished with a flourish that shows what kind of a champion she is.”

Kaufman birdied three of her last five holes to force the playoff, shooting a final-round best 68 that gave her a three-day total of 213. She drained a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to take the lead, then waited for six groups to finish before the playoff began.

In the playoff, Kleiman said Kaufman “striped her drive, then laid up over the bunkers and hit a nice sand wedge into the green. She hit the exact shot she wanted (into the green). There was no need to get greedy. She didn’t have to do anything extraordinary, just play smart golf (after Katahira needed five shots to reach the par five green).”

Tourney notes:

Carley Saint-Onge of Marquette missed the cut for the third straight year, shooting 83-81 for a three-way tie for last place at 164. She plays golf at Michigan State University.

The other amateur exemption, Kris Yoo of the University of Wisconsin, tied for 67th with 226 in her first professional tournament.

Among others who missed the cut, at 150, were Laura Kueny (152), Melissa Eaton (154) and Giulia Molinaro (154), who are in the top 10 money list.

Molly Aronsson, related to the Aronson family of Escanaba, was disqualified Saturday when she failed to sign her second-round scorecard. She would have missed the cut anyway. Stephanie Kim, the 2011 Sweetgrass champion, withdrew Saturday morning because of an ankle injury flare-up.

Sue Kim, the money-list leader, tied for 11th at 218 after nursing a wrist injury sustained a week earlier at the Four Winds Invitational. She practiced sparingly at Sweetgrass but was pleased that “I played steady. I was a little bit disappointed. This was an opportunity for me to get another win, but without practice that would have been hard to do.”

Garrett Phillips entered the final day tied for the lead with Katahira but faltered down the stretch and tied for third with Jessi Gebhardt at 215, two strokes from the playoff. It was the best finish since 2009 for the slender, lanky, long-hitting veteran.

“I had a difficult time today trying to get the right club (in the wind),” she said, indicating it was easier to pick the club Saturday when the same north wind was stronger.

Her title bid hit a road block with a bogey-4 on No. 15, the island green, when her adrenalin-induced 7-iron tee shot hit the firm green but bounced over the edge and left her with a difficult stance. “It was an impossible shot. I was lucky to stay up (from the water),” she said.

She was impressed with the crowd and the course in her first visit to Sweetgrass. “This is one of the best tournaments we play all year,” she said. “The hospitality is unreal and we had really great crowds.”