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Sharp short game leads to big BDGA win for Kaul

FORT ERIE, Ont. — Kim Kaul's short game was on. So was the rout.

Kaul, one of Western New York's top amateur golfers for more than a decade, finished off up-and-downs throughout a sunny afternoon to record the largest victory in the nine-year history of the Buffalo District Golf Association Women's Individual Championship.

Kaul posted a second straight 2-over-par 75 for a 150 total and a 10-stroke victory over defending champion Michelle Hanes at Bridgewater Country Club.

It was the kind of victory that would look good on a Hall of Fame resume — not that Kaul needs it. Earlier this month, it was announced that the multi-talented athlete and coach will be part this year's induction class of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

Friday's win was Kaul's 15th championship in a local or regional event and her second in the BDGA Women's Individual, which she also won in 2005. The 10-stroke margin surpassed the six-stroke win by Kelsey Johnson over Kathy Hunt at Lancaster Country Club in 2004.

On Friday, she started the back nine with two birdies and used her keen short game to earn several par saves.

"[The short game] kept me positive," said Kaul, a Colden resident who plays out of Gowanda Country Club. "My driver was starting to fail me a little bit so I had to come through with the short game. When I got up and down on the back after missing fairways, then I just got rolling."

Julie Murphy, who plays out of Brookfield Country Club and has been competing against Kaul for much of the past decade, trailed by two strokes after the first round.

"Even when she gets into trouble, she makes such smart decisions," said Murphy, who took third (161) in the field of 32 after shooting an 84. "It felt like everything she chipped was 2 feet from the hole."

Kaul's Hall of Fame induction is not simply for her litany of golf accomplishments. She was an amateur softball standout, a top high school coach (combined 450 victories for Orchard Park basketball and softball), a key cog in the early Canisius College basketball program and a standout at West Seneca West in basketball, volleyball, softball and tennis.

Kaul, a physical education teacher and modified softball and volleyball coach at Orchard Park Middle School, was pleased to officially start her summer with the win. She heads next, as does Murphy, to the New York State Amateur at Seneca Falls Country Club on July 10-12.

"Lori Potter [166] and I played together in partner ball in Rochester Monday and Tuesday — I played really well and so did she," said Kaul. "I was pretty confident coming into this. I felt good about playing. I haven't been playing a lot because of work and coaching.

"It's summer," she said in a joyful, schools-out tone. "I'm excited."

Hanes, the two-time All-Catholic Champion who just finished her junior year at Nardin and plays out of Crag Burn Golf Club, followed an 84 with a 76 to take the runner-up spot.

Claire McMahon, a recent graduate of Sacred Heart who is headed to Holy Cross and plays out of Westwood Country Club, joined Kaul and Murphy in the final group and shot 84 for a fourth-place 163.