In the first match-play championship of her life, Emily Tubert, 18, of Burbank, Calif., defeated Lisa McCloskey, 18, of Houston, 3 and 2, to win the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship on Saturday at the 6,092-yard, par-71 Warren Golf Club at Notre Dame.
In a remarkable stretch of seven holes in the morning 18, Tubert made five birdies and won the sixth through the 12th holes, establishing an insurmountable 5-up lead over McCloskey. While it was Tubert’s first victory in a national championship, it was also the first time she had made the match-play rounds.
Tubert, an incoming freshman at the University of Arkansas, had the advantage of greater length than McCloskey, who attends USC. Tubert’s tee shots flew some 40 yards past McCloskey’s and she used 9-irons and wedges for her approach shots while McCloskey was forced to use longer clubs.
The more experienced McCloskey was 2 up when Tubert’s great run started. It began when Tubert chipped in for a birdie at the sixth hole, then squared the match at the seventh with a par. Her par at the eighth gave Tubert a 1-up lead. On the par-3 ninth, she rolled in a downhill 18-footer for another birdie to go 2 up.
The 490-yard, par-5 10th hole is Tubert’s favorite because she can reach it in two shots and has played it well throughout the week. After a big tee shot at the 10th, she went for the green from 200 yards away and her ball rolled to the fringe, 40 feet from the hole. She nearly made the eagle putt, but a conceded birdie gave her a 3-up lead.
At the 184-yard 11th, Tubert hit a 5-iron to within 5 feet of the hole and made the birdie putt to go 4 up. On the 404-yard 12th, the longest par-4 on the course, Tubert hit an 8-iron from 162 yards to within 5 feet of the hole, made her fourth birdie in a row and won her sixth straight hole. She was now 5 up.
"She was on fire," McCloskey said. "She birdied the ninth through the 12th, the hardest stretch of holes on the golf course."
Four holes down at the lunch break, McCloskey pondered what she could do to stop her opponent in the afternoon.
"I thought if I shot four under par for the next 18, it would get me back in there," McCloskey said. "But even if I had, it wouldn’t have done it."
McCloskey rallied in the afternoon with a birdie at the 21st to reduce the deficit to three holes, but her effort seemed futile when Tubert started another run with birdies at the par-3 22nd and the par-5 23rd. When Tubert won the 24th with a par, she was 6 up.
McCloskey cut Tubert’s lead with a series of fine putts, beginning with a 14-foot birdie putt at the 25th hole and a downhill 18-footer for a birdie at the par-3 27th.
Tubert, however, again birdied her favorite hole, the 10th, (the 28th of the match), and the margin was now 5 up with eight holes to play. Tubert gave McCloskey a gift on the 30th hole when she drove far into the woods into an unplayable lie and had to go back to the tee. All McCloskey had to do was stay on the golf course to win the hole.
Tubert was dormie-four at the 33rd but her lead was reduced to 3 up when McCloskey made yet another fine putt, a 12-footer that hit the back of the hole and then dropped for a winning birdie.
When both players parred the picturesque 34th hole, it was an ideal setting aaaafor Tubert’s 3-and-2 victory, and she flew into the arms of her father, Marcelos Tubert, who had been her caddie all week.
"I'm so proud of you, and you belong," the elder Tubert said to his daughter.
Emily Tubert, who began playing golf when she was 13, said she had long been trying to catch up to players who began playing golf when they were much younger.
"It's still been tough for me to truly believe that I belong with these girls," said Tubert, who still has an American Junior Golf Association sticker on her bag.
"I graduated from high school last month, I've been playing golf for five years, and to walk away with this national championship victory is amazing," Tubert said. "I can't believe it."
Notre Dame, Ind. – Results from Saturday’s 36-hole championship match at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links being played at the 6,092-yard, par-71 Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame.
Emily Tubert, Burbank, Calif. (141) def. Lisa McCloskey, Houston, Texas (147), 3 and 2