SOUTH BEND — While leader Selah Unwin was home resting her eight-month pregnant body after Monday’s first round at Erskine Park in the 96th South Bend Women’s Metro golf championship, 23-time champion Lori Horan took the time to drive to Elbel Park for a little practice on the putting green.
The practice came in handy for Horan, who followed up her 38-putt Monday round of 78 with a one-under-par 71 round which needed only 26 putts to complete. Trailing Unwin by three strokes starting Tuesday, Horan reversed matters and now leads Unwin by three strokes heading into Thursday’s final round at Erskine.
Opening day: Unwin plays through 8-month pregnancy to take 3-shot lead over Horan in Women’s Metro
“I came last night and putted for like three hours; it helped,” said Horan, who trailed by two strokes at the turn Tuesday before playing her first four holes in three-under par thanks to birdies at Nos. 10 and 12 and an eagle on the par-5, 399-yard 11th hole where she sank a 20-foot putt from off the fringe. When the stretch was complete, Horan led by at least three strokes the rest of the way.
“I could not putt Monday; I wanted to get a feel for the greens,” said Horan, who needed just nine putts to complete her back nine and was at seven-over 149. “Today, the greens felt really nice for me.”
Unwin, who has struggled in past Metro tournament rounds at Elbel, managed to stay close with a closing birdie at the par-4, 284-yard 18th hole — her second birdie of the day to go with seven bogeys in her 5-over round of 77 that left her at 152, five strokes ahead of third-place Kathleen Cochrane, who shot 76. Horan, Unwin and Cochrane tee off 9:40 Thursday morning at Erskine.
“The mistakes I made at Erskine aren’t as forgivable here,” said Unwin, who plays for Bethel University. “On the front nine, I wasn’t putting my drives in good angles to the green. I kind of turned it around on the back. I tried to make the game simpler. But the way Lori started the back nine, I had to block her out of my mind.”
Over the years since she won her first Women’s Metro title in 1979 as 16-year-old Lori Heiden, Horan has a history of playing on her opponents’ minds.
“There was nothing I could do,” Unwin said.
The improved putting gave Horan confidence in the rest of her game, taking pressure off her drives and approaches.
At the 304-yard 10th, Horan hit a three-quarters 8-iron from the rough to 10 feet and sank the birdie putt.
Then after a good drive on the par-5, 399-yard 11th, Horan came up just short of hitting the green with a high 5-wood approach from 165 yards. “The best 5-wood I’ve hit in a long time,” Horan said. “I was a foot off the front of the green and I made a 20-footer for eagle.”
After taking her medicine when a poor tee shot at 12 led to her only bogey on the back, Horan hit a 6-iron from 141 yards to three feet for another birdie at the par-3 13th hole. She then made a 25-foot birdie putt at the 413-yard, par-5 15th and parred her way to the finish.
“I can’t remember the last time I shot 32 for nine holes,” Horan said.
Horan knows it won’t be easy winning her first Metro title since her nine-stroke victory over Grace Szklarek in 2021. Unwin has shown herself to be a grinder.
“Selah played really well, she played great,” Horan said.
Unwin, who is due to deliver a boy in late August, plans to be ready. “The back nine I had to club up a few times to just be able to swing easy and not wear myself out,” Unwin said. “I’m excited – I like playing Erskine.”
96TH SOUTH BEND WOMEN’S METRO GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Results after Tuesday’s second round at the par-72, 5,159-yard Elbel Park Golf Course (first number is score from Monday’s first round at the par-70, 4,653-yard Erskine Park Golf Course):
149: Lori Horan 78-71
152: Selah Unwin 75-77
157: Kathleen Cochrane 81-76
161: Jordan Koehler 81-80
162: Jill Daniels 83-79
165: JoAnn Jackson 84-81
167: Rachel Thompson 80-87
178: Heather Swaim 92-86
202: Tammy Beiter 104-98
203: Deborah Stout 105-98
211: Susan Gombos 103-108
Others: Carolyn Niedbalski 96-WD
First-round scores Tuesday at Elbel Park:
81: Marley Dunham 42-39
82: Clare Tobin 41-41
85: Lucy Dunham 43-42
89: Celia Florkowski 46-43
133: Doris Li 67-66
Thursday tee times
Pairings for the final round at the par-70, 4,653-yard Erskine Park Golf Course
8:30 a.m.: Celia Florkowski, Doris Li
8:40: Marley Dunham, Clare Tobin, Lucy Dunham
8:50: Deborah Stout, Susan Gombos
9 a.m.: Rachel Thompson, Heather Swaim, Tammy Beiter
9:30: Jordan Koehler, Jill Daniels, JoAnn Jackson
9:40: Lori Horan, Selah Unwin, Kathleen Cochrane
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Horan takes second round lead at South Bend Women’s Metro at Elbel