Patrick Reusse
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The U.S. Women's Open was on the TVs in Runyon's, the famed chicken wings and beverages saloon on Washington Avenue, on July 6, 2003. The most intense observer in there was Alissa Herron Super, in the golf business as a players' agent.

Remarkably, Super had two clients making the final pairing — Hilary Lunke and Angela Stanford — on that long Sunday on the Witch Hollow Course at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon.

Kelly Robbins had gotten in at 1 under par for the 72 holes. Annika Sorenstam was also 1 under playing No. 18, a par 5 and one of the few holes with high birdie potential on this dry, hard, long track.

Stanford needed a birdie to join at 1 under. A birdie would win it for Lunke.

"I had to be neutral, with Angela not only a client but a wonderful person. But in my heart, I was rooting for Hilary," Super said. "The Homeyers and the Herrons have known each other forever. And Hilary is such a special person."

The wait at No. 18 was interminable, whether watching in Runyon's or standing not far advanced in the fairway at Witch Hollow.

"I hit a weak drive and then we waited 20 minutes for Annika to get a ruling up ahead of us," Lunke said. "That was a long time to wait, wondering if I could hit a fairway wood over that ravine in front of me.

"Many of the players would hit a long drive and then an iron to the green. I had to hit a fairway wood. And I didn't hit that one flush and wound up in a fairway bunker 120 yards from the green.

"I took one club more than I should have to get out of the bunker. I needed to risk that to get on the green. I hit it on to about 20 feet."

Bill Homeyer, Hilary's father and certified golf fanatic for much of his life, said: "Hilary has told me that bunker shot was the best shot of her life."

Stanford rolled in a birdie putt, Lunke two-putted for a par — all after Annika bogeyed — and there would be a three-way, 18-hole playoff on Monday: Lunke, the longest shot to win in Women's Open history if not in distance, along with Stanford and Robbins.

Super found a flight and headed for Portland, Ore.

On Monday, a large crowd showed up to try to watch this unlikely threesome play for the 58th U.S. Women's Open championship.

Lunke had gone through both local and sectional qualifying to get into the field. Never had a qualifier won the Women's Open. And again it came down to the 18th hole.

Robbins was out of it. Lunke was even and Stanford was 1 over.

"I ripped my drive," Lunke said. "That time, I had an easy shot over the ravine. I hit my approach about 15 feet from the hole. I figured I had two putts to win, and then Angela made a bomb for a birdie. I had to make that putt to win."

Hilary's husband, Tylar, was her caddie that day. And Penny Homeyer, her mom, had the one guest spot inside the ropes.

"Bill and I couldn't see anything outside the ropes with that crowd, plus we were too nervous," Super said. "We went in to watch in the clubhouse. Hilary was looking over the putt. There was that delay you get on TV before they show the actual shot. I heard the roar, gave Bill a joyous push and said, 'She won the U.S. Open!' "

Homeyer said: "Alissa's push got me behind some people. I never saw the putt. The crowd was crazy inside the clubhouse and out."

The putt of 15 feet came with a left turn when it reached three feet from the hole. Hilary read the turn for her 12th one-putt green of the playoff.

"Hilary always has been a great putter," Super said. "Brad Faxon, Steve Stricker and Hilary should be in the putting Hall of Fame."

Hilary Lunke, nonstop mother of three active daughters, irregular member of the women's nine-hole league at Edina Country Club, teacher of a much-attended weekly Bible study class, off the LPGA Tour by 2009 with little success on her résumé after Pumpkin Ridge, and as maker of that left-turn birdie putt the champion of the U.S. Open 20 years ago, and forevermore.

Hilary Lunke celebrated her winning putt at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open in Oregon.
Hilary Lunke celebrated her winning putt at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open in Oregon.

John Gress, Associated Press

Champion, 'Mom'

Hilary and Tylar Lunke met as golfers at Stanford University. She was a Minnesotan and he was a Texan. She hit it short and straight, Tylar hit it "long and wrong" (source: Hilary).

She was a state champion, individual and team, at Edina High School. She was an All-America player at Stanford. She was on the prestigious Curtis Cup amateur team for the U.S.

The distance issue was too much of an obstacle for the weekly grind and low scores of the LPGA. She won $560,000 as the Open champion, and did not have a top 10 in the rest of her LPGA career.

So, you can call the Open win a miracle, or look at Witch Hollow as so challenging nobody was going to make a bunch of birdies, and this was the one week in time when the skills of this Edina standout — hitting it straight and putting great — could be rewarded.

"I watch our players now, even high school players, and they hit it so far, and especially so high, I can't imagine it," Lunke said. "It's phenomenal how the players hit the ball today."

Tylar works in financial management and Hilary's life is hectic with three daughters — Greta, Marin and Linnea, ages 15 to 10, dance, golf, tennis, on the go.

"We hardly have played golf, Tylar or me, in recent years," Hilary said. "I wanted to start playing more so I signed up for Edina's nine-hole league this spring. I've only made it twice.''

This plaque at Edina Country Club honors club member Hilary (Homeyer) Lunke’s win at the 2003 U.S. Open.
This plaque at Edina Country Club honors club member Hilary (Homeyer) Lunke’s win at the 2003 U.S. Open.

Submitted photo

There's a plaque on the course honoring Lunke's U.S. Open title. She was playing some time ago with a recent arrival at Edina and being quizzed about her golf history.

Humble Hilary kept it vague, and then that same woman was tipped off and said in wide-eyed wonder: "You won the U.S. Open!"

The wonder is being revisited for a few days in Northern California. Hilary and Tylar left Saturday as United States Golf Association guests for a gathering of former champions at this week's U.S. Women's Open that is being played for the first time at Pebble Beach.

"All the champions are playing an event at Cypress Point, and another at The Hay, Pebble Beach's nine-hole short course," Lunke said. "This will be the five-day vacation for the year for Tylar and me."

. . .

Hilary Lunke, pictured here a month after winning the U.S. Open, eventually left pro golf for family life.
Hilary Lunke, pictured here a month after winning the U.S. Open, eventually left pro golf for family life.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Edina duo stayed close

The Homeyer family had spent nine years living in Arizona and then moved back to Minnesota. Daughter Hilary would be a sophomore and teamed with Kalen Anderson as stars of Edina's dynastic girls golf team.

The Hornets won the title in 1995, the third straight for the Hornets and Anderson. Two years later, Edina won again, and Homeyer was the individual champion.

"Hilary and I became the best of friends, still are, but we put the entire country between us,'' Anderson said. "I went to Duke and Hilary went to Stanford.''

They both were honored collegiate players. Homeyer, married to Tylar Lunke in November 2002, won the U.S. Open in 2003 and played through 2008 on LPGA Tour. Post-college, Anderson played four years on the Futures Tour, then became an assistant coach at Duke.

South Carolina hired Anderson as its women's golf coach in 2009. The Gamecocks have been highly successful and reached the final eight for match play in the NCAA tournament again this year.

"Hilary did something that we all dream of when you're playing junior golf, high school golf,'' Anderson said in a phone conversation. "She is also someone to be cherished as a friend. To have something of that magnitude to happen, to win a U.S. Open … it couldn't have happened to a better person.''

Anderson's parents were members at Interlachen and the Homeyers were members at Edina Country Club. Kalen's parents now live in Arizona. When she gets back to Minnesota, it usually has been to bring the South Carolina team to the ANNIKA Collegiate event at the Royal Club in Lake Elmo.

"We can get to see each other, and we're on the phone quite often,'' Anderson said. "The one quality that best describes Hilary for me: kind-hearted.''