Top 10 Sports Stories: No. 8 – Kuiper, Star Steger in Local Golf | Golf

PIERRE JACKEL

When the opportunity presented itself for Ricky Kuiper and Kaylor Steger last summer, the two gave a warm welcome.

In Kuiper’s case, he won the Racine Tri-Course Championship for the first time on July 18, a year after the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And then there was Steger, who won the 2014 WIAA Division 1 Championship as a senior at Oak Creek. The left-hander burned the already dry Ives Grove Golf Links to win the Racine County Men’s Open for a end-to-end championship, leaving Kuiper far behind.

Golf was back in full force last summer and it was a welcome comeback. Even though the County Open had been played in 2020, something seemed to be missing this summer.

Steger and Kuiper helped push these memories back into the distant past with a lot of drama.

How unexpected was Steger’s championship? He wasn’t even supposed to be in the tournament.

In fact, it was only after 10-time champion Bendt Bendtsen III gave up the field for a reason he did not disclose that Steger, a mini tour pro, added. He immediately proved that he belonged to him, but it wasn’t always easy.

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Early in the final round, Steger’s lead was reduced to one stroke after the first two holes by amateur Mark Ellis and he was still leading by two strokes three holes later.

But Steger then saved par on the sixth hole of the red course while Ellis suffered a double bogey. This led to a two-stroke swing, helping Steger to his end-to-end victory in Championship Flight.

Steger picked up some tricky wins at Ives Grove to shoot a 3-under-69 on the Red & White courses and continued to build momentum. He finished with a nine-stroke lead over Kuiper with a total of 11 under 205.

Speaking of that swing at the sixth hole, Steger said, “It was kind of a wild hole and exchange of events. I started out a little slow, sure, and Matt started out hot and he was on a hit.

“But I did a few bombs on (red holes) 4 and 6, he had the wrong putts and then I started sailing. After that I said let’s start bombing some records and have fun with it.

Ramiro Romo, who finished third, expressed his admiration for Steger and Ellis.

“Without a doubt, it’s wonderful to have young talent in our community to come and play in front of us,” said Romo. “(Steger) was nothing but a true gentleman to play with.”

A month earlier, Kuiper had achieved a long-held goal by winning his first tri-race championship. And the 2015 Case graduate achieved that goal by continuing to improve after a less than stellar start.

His first lap of 77 at Johnson Park was the second highest for a Tri-Course champion. Tony Romo shot a 79 when he won his first title in 2004 and Mike Partl got a 77 in 1997.

But then Kuiper went from a stumble to a sprint. He played his last 36 holes at 4 under par to finish with a three-round total of 1 of 216 in the regular division. He got a 71 in the second round at Meadowbrook Country Club and a 68 in the last round at Racine Country Club.

Todd Schaap was second at 221 and Zach Shawhan was another comeback shot at 222.

“Today was by far the best I’ve had all weekend – it kind of clicked today,” Kuiper said of his last lap. “I found something on the shooting range (Sunday) morning and went in there and hit pretty hard all day.

“I had a few punches there but for the most part it was a pretty solid round of golf. And I had a lot of good putts today.