They could tell she was having an easy time of it - strolling merrily along, three shots up with four holes to go in the final round, with nobody mounting any sort of charge.
So, along about the 15th hole of the BMO Canadian Women's Tour stop at RedTail Landing, the golf gods started rattling Cortney Reno's cage.
First they added a strange new name to the chase, Italy's Marina Marsellio, who came from nowhere to post a stunning, improbable 66.
While Reno had four holes to play in the bitter cold and wind, Marsellio was one stroke back, in the clubhouse.
"It was hard, it was getting tough at the end,'' said Reno, a 25-year-old from Detroit. "We were just trying to make pars. Then we see the score, Marina shoots 66. I thought they messed it up. I had to ask one of the spectators if she really shot 66, because that's such a good score.''
Then, just to tighten the noose a little, playing partner Marie-Josee Rouleau starts rolling them in like she's putting into manholes. She makes a bomb on 15, birdies 16 from 20 feet and makes an 18-footer to save par on 17. Suddenly her three-shot deficit is cut to one.
"I was 3 up on MJ by three,'' said Reno. "Then she made two birdies, outstanding birdies, and two amazing putts to save par and I was like 'Oh gosh, you've got to hold it together, this is not being handed to you like I thought it was after 14 or so.'''
It didn't matter. She took it anyway. Reno closed with four-straight pars, including a fantastic up and down from the short-side sand on 17, for a one-shot win (69-92-141) over Rouleau (68-74-142) and Marsellio (76-66-142).
"I had to keep telling myself to stay calm and be patient,'' said Reno, who earned $5,833 for the win and has a stranglehold on the BMO's Order of Merit, worth another $3,000. "Coming into the last five holes I started to think about what I did on the Futures Tour.''
She won on the LPGA developmental circuit in Maryland three weeks ago. That, coupled with yesterday's win, has her pumped about taking a shot at the next level.
"It's been a good year, having won out here and on the Futures Tour a couple of weeks ago, I'm ready to go to Q-school and I feel confident about it,'' she said, adding her recent BMO exemption into the LPGA's Canadian Open in Halifax made her hungrier than ever.
"I went into it thinking it was this unattainable thing,'' she said. "And I got out there and it's just like everywhere else. The courses aren't any longer, they're not any more difficult. Driving-wise, this course is harder than the one we played in Halifax and the greens were in as good a shape. It's the same, except less fans.''
Meanwhile, despite the conditions, Marselli broke the women's competitive course record at RedTail with a 66.