Martha Stacy Leach, 47, of Hebron, Ky., defeated Laura Coble, 45, of Augusta, Ga., 3 and 2, in the final to win the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at the 6,173-yard, par-72 Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club.
Leach joins her sister, Hollis Stacy, as only the second pair of sisters and the first since the Victorian era to win USGA championships. Stacy won six; the U.S. Girls’ Junior three times (1969-71) and three U.S. Women’s Opens (1977, ’78, ’84). U.S. Women’s Amateur champions Harriot Curtis (1906) and Margaret Curtis (1907, ’11, ’12) are the only other sisters to have won USGA titles.
“It’s special,” said Leach of joining Stacy as a USGA champion. “It just means a lot…I love her but I have a lot of other siblings I love, too. Hollis just happens to be a great golfer.”
Said Stacy via the telephone: “I’m so proud of my little sister. She has a heart as big as the state of Georgia.”
Stacy and Leach are two of 11 Stacy siblings who grew up in Savannah, Ga.
Leach won the Women’s Mid-Amateur title on her 22nd try by playing steady golf and showing flashes of brilliance.
When the scheduled 18-hole final was all square, Leach birdied the brutal 10th hole, a 374-yard par 4 that gave the players fits. The average score on the hole was 5.0 strokes this week. But Leach birdied it on a 5-iron approach shot, a little knock-down shot into the wind from 162 yards, and a 15-foot putt to go 1 up.
Her pars at the 12th and 14th holes gave her a 3-up lead on Coble, her former teammate on the University of Georgia women’s golf team. Coble then made an exceptional shot with a pitching wedge to the par-5 15th, her ball settling within inches of the hole for a birdie. Leach’s margin was reduced to 2 up.
On the par-5 16th hole, Stacy faced a 60-yard wedge shot. She has been practicing from that distance and hit the shot to within 3 ½ feet, sinking the putt and winning the hole and the match with a birdie.
“It was a great way to finish,” Leach said. “I’m thinking in the 21 years I’ve played in this, an average 400 entries have been sent in, 8,400 women have played and there have only been 23 champions. And there have been a lot of double winners. What are your odds of winning this? This year I was either going to win the lottery or win the Women’s Mid-Am. I did (win the championship). And I said, ‘Damn, I won’t be winning any money.’ "
Coble played well all week to make the final for the first time in a national championship but made a few early errors. With the usual match-play concessions, Leach was even par for 16 holes and Coble was three over par.
“I was just a little bit off today with my swing, putting, and just couldn’t get it all together,” Coble said, “I’m disappointed that I didn’t win, but I had a great week.”
The Women’s Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, of which 10 are strictly for amateurs.