Last year's letdown left behind by Bieber

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Stacey Bieber knows she let one slip away and she's determined not to let it happen again.

It was but one year ago when Bieber stepped to the 16th tee in the final round of the Manitoba Women's Amateur Championship at Southwood Golf & Country Club with a four-stroke lead and three holes to play.

The St. Charles Country Club member made a double bogey on 16, then watched in frustration as her par putt on 18 -- which would have clinched the tournament for her -- stopped inches short of the hole.

Jill Hardy of Niakwa calmly rolled in a birdie on 18 to take a share of the lead, then made par on the first playoff hole to claim top prize, leaving Bieber to think of what might have been.

"I've done that a few times but the more I've been through that situation, the better I've gotten," said Bieber, who will tee off in the first group at Bel Acres Golf & Country Club this morning in the opening round of the 2005 Manitoba Women's Amateur/Senior Championship. "If that happened again, I would know how to handle it better. Last year, I had no idea where I was or where she was. It really shouldn't matter but I thought I had to do something miraculous on the last hole. If I had known I just needed a par, maybe I wouldn't have been quite as nervous."

REDUCED TO 36 HOLES

Heavy rains on Sunday made Bel Acres unplayable, so Monday's opening round was cancelled, reducing the event to 36 holes.

Bieber, the 2003 Manitoba junior women's champion, recently completed her sophomore season at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and has played in two important events to prepare her for the women's amateur.

Bieber was 15th at the BMO Women's Tour event in Quebec in June, then missed out on qualifying for the USGA women's amateur championship by a stroke at a sectional qualifier at Bracketts Crossing Country Club in Lakeville, Minn.

The end result was disappointing at the qualifier, especially since she made a triple-bogey on the final hole to finish with a 75.

"The last hole killed me," said Bieber, who qualified for the USGA women's amateur in 2004. "It was a par-5. I hit into the long rough, hit into a hazard and then shanked it. I didn't feel any pressure at all, but as I got tired on the last two holes it started to come out and the holes before were more forgiving. I missed (my drive) where I couldn't miss it. It was frustrating."

As for this year's Manitoba women's amateur, Bieber has a clear goal in mind.

"I won't approach it any differently, I would still like to win it," said Bieber, whose highlight of the college season was a second-place finish at the Conference USA tournament in Tennessee. "I've worked a lot on my mental game this year, so I'm going to try to go in with a positive and confident mindset. Whatever swing I have that day, I'm going to play with it and not worry about it."


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