Barb Rieman couldn't help but smile as she glanced at the leader board after the 76th Women's Buffalo District Golf Association (BDGA) Championship at Orchard Park Country Club.
Rieman, a member of Fox Valley Country Club, has seen her name on the board among the likes of Julie Murphy (Brookfield), Kim Kaul (Gowanda), and Kathy Hunt (Brookfield) in her 10 years of playing the tournament, but not in quite the way she did Tuesday.
This time her name was the one with the big circle around it and a star after she beat Kaul on the first playoff hole.
"To win this is such an honor because of all the past recipients of this," Rieman said with her smile still present. "To be in their company means a great deal. I know it sounds corny and everything, but there are so many good golfers in this area. To win this honor in the Buffalo Districts means so much."
Rieman shot an eight-over 80 in her second round, which forced a playoff with Kaul, a four-time winner of the event who shot a tournament-low 76 Tuesday. After sorting out their scorecards, the players headed to the first tee, where Rieman bogeyed the 338-yard par five for the victory.
Last year Rieman finished sixth overall in the Women's BDGA amateur rankings and has finished in the top 10 of the championship event many times.
"It feels great to win it, it really does," Rieman said. "I'm really happy and ecstatic. I've worked hard and played a lot of golf this summer."
The day started with Rieman tied for the lead with Donna Parker (Orchard Park) at seven-over 79.
She shot a 2-over 38 on the front nine to claim the outright lead and a four-shot cushion. But a six-over 42 on the back nine, which included three double bogeys, cost Rieman her lead and allowed for Kaul to sneak into a tie for first. Kaul shot 38s of the front and the back to make up for her first round 11-over 83.
Throughout her unfortunate stretch on the back nine, Rieman said she kept her focus on her own game. After watching Kaul stripe her drive on the playoff hole right down the middle, Rieman still chose to lay up to about 100 yards from the green on her second.
Rieman said that in a recreational round she would have gone for the green in two, but since she was playing in a big-time tournament she was more focused on avoiding a big-time blunder.
"I just kind of played it safe and conservative, played it down to about the 100-yard marker," Rieman said of her second shot on the playoff hole. "I was playing not to make mistakes, minimize things."
Her decision turned out to be the right one as Kaul went for the green in two, hitting her approach short and to the right of the elevated green, where it hit the slope and bounced into a nearby hazard. From there Kaul was forced to take a drop, and she hit her fourth shot well past the pin, just through the fringe.
But Rieman left the door open as she three putted from the front of the green for a bogey-6, meaning Kaul had two strokes from about 25-feet away.
Kaul left herself a seven-foot uphill putt for the tie, but missed.
"I was nervous, but I wasn't as nervous as I thought I was going to be," Rieman said. "To play against somebody like Kim Kaul, she has been atop-ranked golfer in the area for a few years now, it was just an honor to play with her."
"It's nice to see somebody win it for the first time," said tournament secretary Ann Luhr. "You can tell she's excited."