Wichita, Kan. -- There was never a hint of poor sportsmanship in the 24th U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur final Thursday at Wichita Country Club.
But nobody would have blamed Carol Robertson for wondering if some sort of hazing ritual existed for a recently reinstated amateur during her championship match against Meghan Stasi.
Stasi, of Oakland Park, Fla., had her sights set on a record-tying third Women's Mid-Am title. And with six one-putt greens and six birdies in the first 11 holes, Stasi threatened to put an early end to the former Futures Tour player's title hopes.
Welcome back to amateur golf, Carol.
"My caddie (former Wichita State golfer Zac Potter) kept saying, 'Just keep playing your game. Keep doing your thing,' " said the 27-year-old Robertson, of Virginia Beach, Va. "No matter how far up (your opponent is), they're going to feel some nerves, they're going to feel some tension."
Robertson, who regained her amateur status on Sept. 5, rolled with Stasi's punches, then countered with a few of her own. She extended the match to the 18th hole before Stasi prevailed 2 up to join Ellen Port and Sarah LeBrun Ingram as three-time Women's Mid-Am champions.
With her husband, Jason, and parents, Charles and Diane Green, flying in from the East Coast at midnight Thursday to catch the final, Robertson injected some back-nine drama into Stasi's latest conquest. Robertson won the 12th, 13th and 14th holes to slice a four-hole deficit to one. After losing the par-4 15th, Robertson won the par-3 17th with a par to stay in the match.
"She missed a few shots -- a little chink in the armor, which I hadn't seen all day," Robertson said. "Luckily, I stayed in it. It took all I had just to keep up with her."
Needing to win the 379-yard 18th to extend the match, Robertson's approach shot from the right rough came out heavy and settled in a bunker 30 yards from green. With Stasi on the green, lining up an 18-foot birdie attempt, Robertson hit her third shot to within 7 feet. Stasi lagged her third to within 18 inches, and when Robertson's par putt curled away from the hole, she gave Stasi a handshake and a hug to concede the match.
"What a way to come back to amateur golf," Stasi told Robertson at the awards ceremony. "Best of luck to you. I'm sure I'll be seeing you a lot."
Robertson said after Wednesday's semifinal victory over Houston's Robin Burke that the Futures Tour had made her a better golfer. Now barely a month into her new job as an assistant golf coach at Old Dominion, Robertson is OK with life's latest turn.
"It's just such a grind and you depend on so many people around you,"
Robertson said of professional golf. "You've got to have a whole support staff around you to make it work. You just always have your hand out.
"People are so nice and supportive to do it, but after a while, it just wore on me. I really like the stability of having a paycheck coming no matter how I play golf.
And I can come out here and do this, go back to a job and a paycheck and a husband, and not have to pack a suitcase and go out and do it all over again."
In her second stint as an amateur golfer, that qualifies as a victory.
Scott Paske is a freelance writer whose work as previously appeared on USGA championship sites.