HARTFORD, Conn. – Mia Grzywinski’s father Geoff had caddied for his daughter in four of her victories, but mother Lauren was batting zero in her limited times on the bag entering the Hartford Women’s Open.
The parents often split time during multiple-round tournaments, with Jeff scheduled to carry Sunday in the final round at Keney Park Golf Course. But after Mia played so well Saturday in shooting a 1-over-par 71 in the first round at Goodwin Park Golf Course, the Grzywinskis decided that mom would do the duties with the pull cart on Sunday.
The strategy couldn’t have worked better, as Mia birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine on the way to a personal-best, 5-under-par 30 and a career-low 4-under 66 for a 36-hole total of 3-under 137 and a three-stroke victory over pro and first-round leader Aimee Caligiore, the 2019 champion.
When the final putt dropped, Mia hugged and kissed mom, then was doused with water by several friends whom she knew and has often played with, including defending champion Angela Garvin, and then headed for dad, who was a spectator behind the 18th green and heartily embraced his daughter.
Talk about a terrific family and friends affair.
“I was a little nervous, but my mental side was just great,” said Grzywinski, 20, a junior at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. “I just took it one shot at a time, and it was the best that I’ve ever done that. I just stayed in the moment.”
Grzywinski began the day one stroke behind Caligiore and took the lead when she hit an 8-iron shot to 18 inches for a birdie 2 at the sixth hole. The duo each bogeyed the eighth hole, and Caligiore was even after Grzywinski three-putted from 60 feet on No. 9.
The duel continued and the fireworks began when both two-putted the par-5 10th hole for birdie, and Grzywinski moved ahead for good when Caligiore three-putted the par-3 11th from 35 feet. Caligiore drove the 295-yard, par-4 12th hole and two-putted for birdie, but Grzywinski matched that with 25-foot putt that drew a fist pump.
Grzywinski doubled her lead when she hit an 8-iron shot to two feet for birdie at the par-3 14th, and each birdied the par-5 15th in impressive fashion. Grzywinski hit a 3-wood second shot from 191 yards onto the green and two-putted from 30 feet for her fourth birdie in five holes. Caligiore’s drive left her behind some trees, then she pitched into the fairway, hit her downhill third shot 40 feet past the cup and slammed the putt in off the flagstick, drawing a coy smile.
When Grzywinski, Caligiore and playing partner Jordan Lintz left the 14th green, they had combined for nine birdies and one three-putt bogey in five holes.
Grzywinski all but clinched the biggest win of her career at the 15th hole, where her approach bounced over the green while Caligiore was 15 feet from a birdie. But Grzywinski lofted a deft chip that stopped 3 feet from the cup and Caligiore failed to convert.
“I really liked that chip,” a smiling Grzywinski said of a shot that was applauded by Garvin and several others standing on the nearby par-3 18th tee.
After each of the frontrunners made routine pars at the 16th hole, Grzywinski did clinch her win, hitting a 7-iron shot from 141 yards to 10 feet and making her fifth birdie on the back nine. A closing par gave her a tournament-record, nine-hole 30 and 66, one off the record shot by Kelly Whaley in her win in 2018.
“Mia was just awesome on the back nine,” said Caligiore, 30, a graduate of St. Lawrence University and now an assistant pro at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club in Orlando, Fla. “My ball-striking could have been better, but I hung in there and made a lot of good par putts. I gave it my all on all my shots, so that’s all I can ask.”
Caligiore’s consolation for the positive outlook that she shared with her father/caddie Sandy Caligiore was the winning pro check of $1,700 from a $4,000 purse.
Lintz, 43, the owner of Jordan Lintz Golf who played on the LPGA and Futures Tour, also lauded Grzywinski’s play. Lintz started two strokes back and was only one behind when she birdied the seventh hole but finished the front nine bogey-double bogey for 38 before shooting 35 on the back side to finish third at 145 and earn $1,000.
“Mia played absolutely outstanding,” said Lintz, who finished second in 2016. “I tried to press a little but made a big mistake on No. 9 when my second shot stayed in the trees and I three-putted. But the Connecticut Women’s Open (tie for eighth on Tuesday) and this tournament were good preparation for the LPGA Teaching Professional Championship at Kingsmill (Va.) next month. It tells me what have to work on.”
Garvin, 20, a junior at the University of Maryland from Feeding Hills, Mass., shot 72 to tie for fourth with Yun Kiu Tiffany Chan of South Korea and a junior at the Kent School (73). Garvin, a five-time winner of the Connecticut Section PGA Girls Junior Championship, has now finished in the Top 5 in each of the six Hartford Women’s Opens.
Grzywinski was a two-time Central Connecticut Conference champion while at Farmington High School and finished third in the Connecticut State Women’s Amateur Championship last year but said she made extensive improvement while competing less and practicing more during the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked with friend Jeff Goefftwohill and Jim Bunel at Fairview Farms CC in Harwinton.
“She really worked hard and improved all parts of her game,” Grzywinski’s father proudly said.
“A lot of (the improvement) is skill, but it has been even more mental,” Mia said. “My swing completely changed so I wouldn’t drop down at the top, but the biggest thing is I got back to enjoying the game again so there was no stress. And watching good players like Angela and (multiple state men’s champion) Chris Fosdick got me to think like them.”