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Aaren Ziegler scores lower than the rest again at Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur

Canby graduate Aaren Ziegler won her second Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur title at Lewiston Golf and Country Club in Idaho.


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Aaren Ziegler posing with her caddy during the Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur.

Huddled on the couch in her family home with her knees clasped between her arms while overlooking the 17th hole of the Willamette Valley Country Club, Aaren Ziegler contemplated finality after her second Pacific Northwest Women’s Amateur triumph in four years.

“It was my last hurrah. It’s kind of scary that my career is coming to an end,” she said.

Though she still has one more season to play at University of Wisconsin, the Pac NW championship was likely one of the final individual tournaments of her career, as she will not attempt to enter the professional golf firestorm.

“A lot of people ask me that but it’s just so hard and expensive.” She added: “This will probably be my last summer of amateur events.”

Though she’s on her way toward amateur retirement, Ziegler is currently playing some of her best golf. In Ziegler’s eyes, she has rarely matched her performance at Lewiston Golf & Country Club in Idaho.

Ziegler first reigned supreme in the stroke play qualifier. Because she finished two strokes ahead of the rest, she garnered the number one seed in the 32-player match play tournament and earned medalist honors. However, she was weary of the alleged curse that hovers over number one seeds.

“Whenever someone is the medalist they say it’s a curse. They say the number one seed doesn’t usually win,” she said.

Based on results from the last few years, Ziegler had every right to be a little skittish. In 2013, No. 1 seed Kendall Prince lost in the quarterfinals of the match play tournament. In 2012, No. 1 seed Megan Haase also lost in the quarterfinals and in 2011, despite being the No. 27 seed, Ziegler won the championship, while No. 1 seed Chihiro Ikeda lost in the, you guessed it, quarterfinals.

Ziegler acknowledged more practical reasons for this phenomenon.

“Match play is really weird; Somebody might’ve shot 85-85 in stroke play and then play out of their mind in match play. And then you’re like, “how did I lose to this person,’ because you just don’t know how it’s gonna go,” Ziegler said.

However, Ziegler broke the mold, winning the tournament after defeating Tyler Barker 2 and 1 in the championship round.

“I just tried to stay calm and relaxed and stuck to my game and it worked,” Ziegler said.

What seemed to set her apart was her soft touch guiding her golf ball through treacherous slopes with her putter. Because the course is located in a canyon with a river below, putts roll viciously toward the river.

“It was pretty steep a lot of the time. Lag putting was pretty hard and reading the greens was difficult because they were so slope-y,” she said.

Amazingly, Ziegler admitted she doesn’t spend much time measuring a specific line on the green, but rather, putts based on “feel.”

“I just go up there and hit it. It seemed to work this tournament I guess,” she said.

Though Ziegler is modest about her performance, members of the country club were certainly impressed.

“A lot of the members were saying, ‘dang girl, I don’t know how you’re putting so well.’ ‘I was like, I don’t know either,’” she said.

In the first round of stroke play, while she was still trying to get used to the speedy greens, lady luck paid Ziegler a visit.

Ziegler was eyeing a birdie putt she deemed a “downhill slider.” Immediately after the putt was released, she knew her swing was too firm. However, because her line was right on the mark, the ball hit the back of the cup and jumped into the hole.

“I was like, ‘ooh thank god that hit the hole. That would’ve probably gone off the green,”’ she said.

Fittingly, the most important shot of the tournament was also a putt. On the 15th hole of the second 18 during her topsy-turvy 36-hole bout with Barker, Ziegler was facing a 12-foot downhill par putt to keep her two-stroke lead.

“I somehow made the putt. My caddy was like, ‘that was the putt of your life.’”

While Ziegler won her second title after completing three years of studying and competing at University of Wisconsin, Ziegler won her first title in 2011 before she entered the collegiate ranks.

“I would say the first time around was really cool. I had never won an amateur tournament before that was that big. I definitely felt like I hadn’t really peaked yet in my golf career,” she said.

Three years later, she said she has evolved into a much better player.

Her workout regimen in college has worked wonders for her endurance and power off the tee.

“I used to hit it extremely short off the tee because I was pretty small and didn’t work out that much. Ever since being in school we have workouts two days a week. I do hit it further than in 2011,” she said.

In fact, one of the keys to her victory was endurance. Ziegler said Barker wore down toward the end of the match, while she stayed steady. Surprisingly, in a field stacked with Division 1 talent, Barker doesn’t play college golf.

It’s hard when you’re playing 36 holes three days in a row and then 18 two days in a row,” Ziegler said.

However, she is used to it in college.

“In college golf you play 36 almost every tournament and workout on top of that,” Ziegler said.

Her week at the tournament forced her to expedite the energy.

“My caddy and I counted how many holes we played in the last week and it was like 160 holes. I can’t even fathom that,” she said.

Ziegler’s childhood growing up on the backdrop of the Willamette Valley Country Club may have also contributed to her success.

“The course was really narrow, kinda like this course, and it was short, which was good because I don’t hit it very far. I was like, ‘this is perfect, just hit fairways and greens and I’m good to go,’” she said.

Ziegler fondly recalls her childhood living behind the golf course with her Dad and brother Robbie, who golfed for University of Oregon.

“My parents moved here when I was one and I’ve been playing here my whole life. My brother and me used to go out with my Dad at night when I was six or seven years old and just dink around out there,” she said. She added: “It’s definitely gotten me to where I am today with golf. I’m thankful I was able to grow up right behind 17 and can go out whenever I want,” she said.

When talking about her multiple triumphs at the Pacific Northwest Amateur, Ziegler is rather casual.

But when she learned Tiger Woods won the Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur in 1994 and realized she’s won more Pac NW amateur titles than one of the greatest to ever clutch a five-iron, she understood the gravity of her accomplishment.

She said: “Oh my god did he? I didn’t even know that actually. That’s pretty cool. Sometimes I don’t realize how big of a deal it is. Damn, I won a serious amateur event.”



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