A sister showdown: Stephanie Herzog clips Leah for a Resorters crown
The Herzog sisters had not played each other in a match-play championship until Saturday at the Resorters, and the older sister got the better of her younger sibling this time.
Stephanie Herzog, who will be a sophomore with the University of Iowa this fall, was on her game from the get-go in the title match. She built a lead of 6-up through 12 holes on Leah, a senior this fall at Red Wing, as Stephanie won 4-3 to secure her first Resorters championship.
"I've never really loved match play," Stephanie said. "I prefer stroke play, so it was really good to overcome those negative thoughts I had going in of match play. Especially the last two days, I just went in and really stayed calm and didn't really worry about the match at all and instead just worried about my game."
Stephanie was calm and steady throughout the title match. She birdied No. 1 to go 1-up before Leah took it back with a par win on 2. Then at No. 3, Stephanie stuck her approach shot on the par-five to within 10 feet and sank an eagle putt to negate a birdie by Leah.
"That was probably a momentum turner," Stephanie said. "I won four and five again. My wedge game was really good today."
Leah opened the door a bit with a few bogeys and a double on No. 4, and Stephanie took advantage. She finished her round at 4-under par through 14 holes before the match ended.
"The first seven holes she played, she didn't play very good for her," Stephanie said. "Obviously, I've played with her a lot since we're sisters. I could tell she wasn't quite on her game, and I was playing quite well."
Leah's best moment of the round came on No. 14. She had just avoided elimination on No. 13 with a par win and had to keep winning to extend the match.
On the par-5 14th, Stephanie stuck her approach shot to within about two feet, for what would have been a tap-in birdie to win it. But Leah followed by sinking her approach shot from more than 50 yards out for an eagle that extended things another hole. The shot drew a smile from both sisters.
"It was kind of nice for her too because I knew she wasn't playing her best," Stephanie said.
Stephanie had to find her game a bit throughout the week. She didn't like the way she had played through her first two rounds of match play, but she came on during a 5-4 win over Osakis' Alayna Eldred in the semifinals and then again in the championship.
The Resorters is part of a summer where Stephanie said she's averaged about 64 holes a week as she aims to keep sharp going back into Big Ten play. She capped off the week with her first Resorters title, a championship she hopes is not her last at AGC.
"This is like my highlight of the year, tournament-wise," Stephanie said. "I have my family here, and Sophia (Yoemans) comes, who's a good friend of mine. It's just a really fun atmosphere. It's pretty chill and the course is beautiful. I'm hoping I come back (next year)."