TYNGSBORO -- She sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the first hole of sudden death at Vesper on Saturday evening to win the Lowell Women's City Golf Tournament for the fourth time.
It was Caitlin Barry's first title in five years.
You just would not have known from Barry's quiet reaction to her winning putt that this was the case: No fist pump. Just a weary winner's smile.
"I think I was just relieved it was over," said Barry moments later, flashing a wider smile.
"But, after the fact, when I grabbed the ball (out of the hole), I was definitely very excited," she added.
When Long Meadow's Barry, 28, and Nabnasset's 61-year-old Anne Windhol headed to that first tee for the playoff, each probably wondered why in golf's name she wasn't already holding the winner's bowl for this 16th Women's Cities.
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Moments earlier, Barry had lipped out an 8-foot par putt for the win on 18.
Oh, she thought she had it. "I actually started to walk it in ... and it lipped out on me," said Barry.
But Barry's soon-to-be-moot might-have-been on Vesper's 440-yard, par-5 18th didn't compare to Windhol's.
Windhol had been the leader in the clubhouse since posting her 7-over-par 79 more than two hours earlier. But that 79, as good as it looked up on the board, included a quadruple-bogey 9 on 18, where Windhol skulled a shot out of the bunker into the parking lot, then chipped into a flower bed. This after she had snaked in a 25-foot birdie putt on 17.
But all things considered, Windhol thought 79 might hold up for her first title.
"I felt good coming into this tournament and thought I could make a good run," Windhol, a personal trainer and consistent Women's Cities contender, said immediately after her round. "My dream came true up until the 18th."
Vesper's Caroline Hughes Wilder, Sheila Montminy and Cheryl Popp (the 2010 champ) would all finish two shots out of the playoff at 81.
So Barry, who three years ago here struggled over the final two holes with victory in her grasp and missed a playoff won by Vesper's Janice Carroll, and Windhol, who had "knots" in her stomach while watching Barry almost get up and down on 18 in the final group on Saturday to secure victory, headed for a playoff.
"My adrenaline definitely was rushing," said Barry.
"I probably should have taken some swings and warmed up a little," said Windhol.
Both golfers hit good drives on the par-4 first playoff hole, with Barry's nearly 30 yards beyond Windhol's and just 20 yards from the green.
But Windhol's second shot skidded off the left side of the green, almost reaching the 15th green.
Barry chipped to within 15 feet.
"I just stuck to the plan that me and my brother (caddie Brian) put forth," said Barry. "Put it up there a little past the hole, and (putt) it right because it's going to go left."
Windhol was on the green, lying four, when Barry ended it.
"Just a matter of lagging it down there -- if it goes in, it goes in," said Barry. "If it doesn't, tap in (for par) and walk away (with the win). Halfway there, I knew it was in. It was right on line. So it was a great finish."
Windhol's thoughts turned back to her 9 on 18. "I'll probably have nightmares for a couple of weeks," she said, smiling. "But I'll get over it."
This was Barry's first title since winning in 2009 at Nabnasset. The former Lowell High and Rollins College standout is an 11-time women's club champion at Long Meadow. She is now one Women's Cities title behind all-time leader Liz (Friel) O'Brien, who last year won her fifth title and on Saturday shot 84 to finish five shots out of the playoff.
Vesper easily won the team title with 858 strokes, 85 shots ahead of runner-up Nabnasset.
Perhaps the loudest roar of the day went up for Long Meadow's 16-year-old Sarah Cohan, who eagled the 18th with a three-quarter wedge from 99 yards. Headed into her junior year at Lowell High, Cohan, with brother Nick as her caddie, shot 103 in her first Women's Cities.
But again, what a finish.
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