KirkwoodGolf: Jess Meek takes the Missouri State title

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jess Meek takes the Missouri State title

From the St Louis Post Dispatch
by Steve Overbey

Jess Meek with the Missouri Women's Amateur Trophy
Photo Paul Kopsky

GLENDALE • Give Jess Meek a sunny, 100-degree day any time.

The native of Carnoustie, Scotland will certainly take a sweltering Missouri steam bath over the options in her country.

“Back home right now, the winds are about 70 (miles per hour), there’s driving rain and it’s 56 degrees,” Meek said. “I’m fine right here. This is perfect golfing weather.”

Meek looked right at home Wednesday, firing an even-par 71 to capture the 87th Missouri Women’s Amateur Championship at Algonquin Golf Club.

The 23-year-old, who will graduate from the University of Missouri in December, posted a 6-over 219 over the three-day, 54-hole event to claim the crown by six strokes.

Defending champion Emily Goldenstein, from Chesterfield, finished in a tie for second with Kayla Eckelkamp (Washington, Mo.) at 225.

Meek, a four-year starter for the Tigers, turned in a mistake-free round in the sizzling heat Wednesday to take control. She began the day tied with Eckelkamp but used a pair of birdies on the front nine to take the lead for good.

“I got a few breaks, some nice lies, and I just took advantage,” Meek said. “There’s always a lot of luck involved.”

Goldenstein, a senior-to-be at the University of Memphis, said luck was not a factor.

“She’s that good — she deserved it,” Goldenstein said.

Meek not only looked at home in the heat, but she walked the entire round with her caddie, Sean Minor. Players had the option of riding a cart, but Meek didn’t need the assistance.“It messes up my rhythm,” Meek said. “And it wasn’t that bad out there, if you are prepared for it.

Meek recently completed a successful career at Mizzou and plans to attend qualifying school in August in hope of joining the LPGA tour.

She says her win in one of the state’s most prestigious events is a huge step in that direction.

“Right now, I feel like I’m playing solid,” Meek said. “Hitting fairways and greens, making putts, doing the things I need to do.”

Meek normally spends summers back home in Scotland but chose to stay in Columbia to work on her game.

“Playing in rain and wind, that’s not going to prepare me for what I want to do,” she said.

Meek was consistent during all three days, She recorded eight birdies and 34 pars and had just one hole over bogey. Meek fired a 73 on Monday and shot 75 Tuesday.

Her performance put plenty of pressure on the other 59 competitors.

Eckelkamp, who has finished third in the tournament three times, said it was almost impossible to gain ground on the ultra-consistent Meek over the final 18 holes.

“The conditions were hot, but it didn’t bother her,” Eckelkamp said. “She didn’t make many mistakes and when she did, she recovered well.”

The field featured players ranging from age 13 to 71.

Goldenstein, a Parkway West grad, was hoping to retain title. But she said she put too much pressure on herself.

“I think I might have been thinking too much about it,” Goldenstein said. “Maybe, for me, it’s better to come from the behind than try to defend it.”