Angela Buzminski of Oshawa, Ont., made a promise six years ago that she wanted to keep and, since 2003, wanting to win again was about more than just hoisting a crystal trophy and depositing a nice cheque into her bank account.
It was about keeping a promise to a friend.
The Canadian kept her promise today when she won the inaugural $110,000 Historic Brownsville Open in a non-stop windstorm that allowed just two sub-par rounds and two even-par rounds on a tough El Diablo Course at Rancho Viejo Resort and Country Club.
It marked the second consecutive win by a Canadian on the Duramed Futures Tour after Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., won the Louisiana Pelican Classic a week ago.
Sustained winds at 29 mph howled all day, with gusts of up to 38 mph. According to Buzminski, who carded a six-over-par 77 yesterday to win at 216 (+3), it was downright ugly at times.
“A win is a win and it’s been so long since my last one,” said Buzminski, a 15-year professional who now has five victories on the Futures Tour.
Like everybody else in the field, Buzminski had her share of trouble today. On her front nine, she recorded three bogeys and a double-bogey for a score of four-over-par 40.
On one hole, her ball rolled to the base of a tree, forcing the left-handed player to play the shot right-handed with the toe of her putter.
“I knew it was tough for everybody and I really wasn’t worried,” she said. “I don’t get sassy anymore. I’m too old for that.”
Sure enough, she rolled in a birdie from 10 feet on the 12th hole, gave it back on the 13th with a bogey, and then birdied from five feet on the 15th.
On the par-3 16th, a 160-yard hole that was playing 180, Buzminski smoked her knockdown hybrid over the green. The shot was out of bounds and Buzminski ended up taking a double bogey on the hole.
That led to frustration and fellow player Meghan Little, who missed the cut on Saturday and caddied for Buzminski today, reached out and stopped the madness.
“After that double on 16, she took off toward the 17th tee and I grabbed her by the shoulder,” said Little. “I said, ‘You can slow down right now because there’s no hurry to get there. There are two holes left and you still have a one-shot lead.'”
It was good advice, because try as they might, nobody else could catch Buzminski on the tight tree-lined course with small, firm greens and winds that wore down the patience of all.
Buzminski hit her “stinger” three wood off the tee on 17 and 18 to par in, capping her win from the back fringe of the 18th from 25 feet.
Buzminski won her first tournament as a professional on the Futures Tour in 2000, and then tore it up in 2001 with three wins and nine top-10 finishes to earn full LPGA status for the following season.
Since returning to the Futures Tour, she has suffered at times from lack of confidence that finally ended on the weekend.
Or perhaps more accurately, a year ago when she went to teaching professional Jeff Gschwind and admitted that she was ready for a swing overhaul.
Her teacher reinforced her positive thoughts and launched her on a new stack and tilt swing method to shorten her previously long-and-loose backswing. The swing change passed a tough test in Texas.
After she had signed her last autograph, Buzminski spoke quietly about a promise she had made to fellow Canadian Heather Wilbur back in 2003 when the 27-year-old was battling leukemia.
Each day was becoming a challenge for Wilbur, who had played on the Futures Tour for three years when she suddenly fell ill.
“A couple of months before Heather died, I told her that the next time I win, that I would dedicate it to her,” said Buzminski. “I guess it took me a while.”
The important thing is she kept that promise.
By Lisa Mickey, Duramed Futures Tour