Wichita, Kan. – Sometimes it doesn’t matter what happens until the end. That’s the lesson Meghan Stasi took away from her U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur quarterfinal match-play victory over Laura Coble Wednesday at Wichita Country Club.
At the 6,209-yard, par-72 William H. Diddel design, the 32-year-old Stasi of Oakland Park, Fla., knocked in a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to secure her first lead of the match, which was good enough for the 1-up victory.
The only one that matters is that last one, said a relieved Stasi of the battle between two former college golf coaches.
Stasi’s performance earned her a spot in the afternoon’s semifinals. She’ll face off against the upstart Brooke Williams, 27, of Fort Worth, Texas, who defeated Carolyn Creekmore, 58, of Dallas, 6 and 4. In the other semifinal match, Carol Robertson, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va., will take on Robin Burke, 48, of Houston.
Stasi, the only U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur competitor to make match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur this year, played from behind much of the way. Coble held the lead for 14 holes.
The 46-year-old Coble of Augusta, Ga., who was the runner-up last year, had been 2 up through 13 holes because she made several clutch up and downs when she needed.
Stasi cut into the lead on the 355-yard par-4 14th, winning with a two-putt par from 27 feet away. On the dogleg-left, par-4 15th, Coble got aggressive and tried to cut a cluster of trees. The decision cost her when her ball caught branches, forcing her to pitch onto the fairway with her next shot. Stasi won the hole with a 4-foot par to square the match.
I had a lot of chances early, but then I got sloppy and you can’t do that against quality players, said Coble.
With new life, the two-time champion hung tough, even after Coble won No. 16 when Stasi conceded the hole. One hole later, the momentum would swing in Stasi’s favor. Coble mis-hit a chip from off the right rear of the green, and the ball came up 22 feet short of the flagstick. Coble looked down at the ground in disgust.
On that chip, I had a funky lie, said Coble, the former coach at Augusta State. I came through and caught a clump of grass and misplayed it.
Stasi, who coached at Mississippi, won the hole to set up a thrilling finish. Coble’s approach shot was too strong, rolling to the back of the green. Meanwhile, Stasi stuck her approach to 4 feet. Coble chipped 10 feet past the hole, but made the comebacker. Stasi stepped up and nailed the winning putt.
I’m good now that [the match] is over, said Stasi. As long as you make it through 18, I told myself early on, I knew I’d have a chance.
Speaking of chances, Burke provided herself another opportunity to win the championship for the first time by making it back to the semifinals for the first time since 2005. The wife of former Masters champion Jack Burke Jr., Robin continued to ride her fortunes with an impressive short-iron game, beating another past champion in Corey Weworski. She had eliminated three-time champion Ellen Port Tuesday.
Against 2004 champion Weworski, 48, of Carlsbad, Calif., Wednesday, Burke won three successive holes (Nos. 5-7), birdieing No. 5 and No. 7.
On a warm and cloudless day, Burke again donned what she called her lucky gray long-sleeved shirt, saying with a laugh that it very well could be bringing her luck.
Asked whether her husband of 24 years still helps her with her golf game, Burke said, He helps with everything. I was, really, a poor player when I met him. I knew nothing. He taught me for hours, and helped me make contacts with others who have helped me.
Burke will square off against Robertson, who got her amateur status back Sept. 5. In her first U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, Robertson continued to roll by beating Sydney Wells, 49, of Menominee, Mich., 4 and 3. Robertson was consistently longer off the tee, setting up many short-iron shots into greens.
It’s always an advantage to have to hit a short iron in, but you need to hit the fairway too, said Robertson.
Robertson built a 3-up advantage through the first nine holes. On the par-4 14th, her margin would increase to 4 up after she stuck her approach shot to within 8 feet of the flagstick before draining the birdie putt.
The Old Dominion assistant coach had been champing at the bit to play competitively again, but she had to sit out a year competitively before reinstatement. Two days after gaining her amateur status back, she qualified at Rivermont Golf and Country Club in Johns Creek, Ga.
Everything is great from here on out, she said, smiling.
Story written by Ken Klavon, web editor for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.