Tess Hackworthy is itching to get back into competition mode.
And what better way than by defending her second straight Wisconsin State Women’s Open title?
Hackworthy, a Madison native and member of the University of Wisconsin women’s golf team, will take aim at a third straight open title when the tournament comes to Janesville for the first time in its 22-year history this week.
“My game’s in really good shape right now, and I’m really excited to compete again,” said Hackworthy, a Badgers junior who redshirted this season. “I took the last season off, so I’m really excited to get back into competition.
“It looks like a really competitive field. I’m excited to see all the girls again and get back out there.”
The Janesville Country Club will host the tournament, with the first round Tuesday afternoon and the second beginning Wednesday morning.
Sixty-five golfers are registered to compete beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Hackworthy is the only former champ in the field and has a chance to join Malinda Johnson and Carolyn Barnett-Howe as the only golfers to win the event three straight years.
Hackworthy said she has been avidly practicing and played in one other tournament heading into the Open.
“I’ve been off to a good start, with a lot of good practice and playing,” she said. “A lot of patience has helped (me win the last two years), and a lot of experience and playing in events and being in a position like that.
“It always helps to have my dad on the bag, for sure. He’s my rock and has always been there for me.”
Hackworthy got her first look at the country club Wednesday.
She said playing a practice round was important. Hackworthy said the club’s layout compares favorably to her home course of Maple Bluff Country Club.
“Both courses have smaller greens and both have tree-lined, tight fairways,” Hackworthy said. “That’s something I’ve gotten used to playing at Maple Bluff almost every day. That’s something I’m comfortable with, and it doesn’t intimidate me.”
Hackworthy also said the Janesville Country Club has a similar feel to that of Mascoutin Golf Club and Racine Country Club, the courses that hosted the past two years when she has won.
“They’re similar in a good way,” she said. “It makes me feel comfortable.”
Area players in the field
Several area players will tee it up in the Women’s State Open, including Milton’s Mia Seeman.
Seeman is coming off winning the WIAA Division 1 state tournament title at University Ridge in Madison this past fall. She will attend and play golf at South Dakota State beginning this upcoming school year.
Also in the field are a pair of her former teammates. CheyAnn Knudsen, a Milton High grad, is coming off a successful sophomore campaign at UW-Whitewater in which the Warhawks qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament. And Taylor Hakala, who just finished her junior year at Milton, is also in the field.
Sophia Dooman is one of two Janesville residents in the field. She is coming off a junior year at Parker High that saw her advance to the WIAA state tournament, where she finished tied for 42nd. Also in the field from Janesville is Ellyn Subak.
Other area competitors include: Beloit’s Kate Engler and Lake Geneva’s Holly Murphy.
Seeman (Division 1, 2017) and Hackworthy (Division 2, 2014) are two of six WIAA state champions in the field.
Emily Lauterbach, the 2016 D1 champ out of Hartland Arrowhead, will play in the same group as Seeman on Tuesday, teeing off at 12:48 p.m.
The other former state champs are: Ashley Kulka (D1, 2015, Beaver Dam), Carly Werwie (D1, 2004, Kenosha Bradford) and Lindsay Koth (2002, Edgewood).
Werwie is one of six professionals in the field. Koth won her high school title the last year before competition was split into two divisions.
Beware of Badgers
Hackworthy is the most recent UW golfer to have success at the Women’s State Open, and she’s joined by three other Badgers in the field.
Bobbi Stricker, a sophomore, is the daughter of Edgerton native Steve Stricker. Steve will be preparing to play in the U.S. Open this week.
Other Badgers in the field are senior Becky Klongland and senior Aya Johnson.