USGA Champions Team Up in Women’s Four-Ball Debut April 24, 2019 | Jacksonville, Fla. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champs Kelsey Chugg (left) and Julia Potter-Bobb have gone from foes to partners this week. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

Julia Potter-Bobb has some impressive USGA accomplishments on her playing résumé: she is the first female left-handed champion in USGA history, and the first lefty with multiple titles, having captured the 2013 and 2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships.

Now another “one and only” tidbit can be added to her portfolio: she is part of the first U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball tandem formed in Argentina.

That’s where Potter-Bobb joined three other recent U.S. Mid-Amateur winners who were invited by the USGA to compete in the 2018 South American Amateur Championship. In a practice round for the January event at Martindale Country Club in Buenos Aires, Potter-Bobb and Kelsey Chugg joined Scott Harvey and Matt Parziale, the U.S. Mid-Amateur champions in 2014 and 2017, respectively.

“We decided to play a little match to help us prepare,” said Potter-Bobb. “Kelsey didn’t even have her clubs with her, but we just clicked. The guys immediately said we should play in the Four-Ball together.”

So here they are at Timuquana Country Club, competing in the 5th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, the first for each of them. The duo kept the good vibes from Argentina going last Sept. 4 when they carded a 64 at Forest Akers Golf Course in Lansing, Mich., to earn one of the two available qualifying spots.

“We’ve developed a great friendship,” said Chugg, 27, who won the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in her championship debut and reached the final of last year’s championship before losing to Shannon Johnson. “She’s a lefty and I’m a righty, but our games are really similar. And if we get hot, we can make some birdies.”

The similarities don’t end there, as each of them works in the golf industry. Potter-Bobb, 31, of Indianapolis, Ind., is the director of member services for the Indiana Golf Office. Chugg held the same role with the Utah Golf Association until she left last month to become the associate director of the golf division for Salt Lake City, her hometown.

While their games might have accumulated a bit of rust over the winter, Chugg is hopeful they’ll pick up where they left off last fall.

“The winter in Utah has been horrible – snow, rain and crazy weather,” said Chugg, an Ogden, Utah, native who played college golf at Weber State University and is a four-time Utah Women’s Amateur champion. “But I was able to play an event in southern Utah, a Stableford event, which was nice to brush the dust off, and the weather has been good the past week.”

Along with the experience of playing in South America, Chugg can draw from the competitive opportunities she gained from her 2017 victory at Champions Golf Club in Houston, which earned her berths in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Women’s Amateur championships. Although she missed the cut in both, it whetted her appetite for more of the same.

“It’s been unbelievable to go to these events and play these amazing golf courses with some of the best players in the country,” said Chugg. “It’s really motivated me to keep working on my game.”

Potter-Bobb, who played at the University of Missouri and is a seven-time Indiana Women’s Golf Association player of the year, feels comfortable in the partnership.

“First of all, she’s a great person – and a solid, smart golfer,” said Potter-Bobb. “I know I’m in good hands with her. I just have to worry about me on the golf course, and that’s enough.”

Potter-Bobb did have to worry about Chugg last fall, when the two squared off in the Round of 16 of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis. They were barely three weeks removed from having qualified for this week’s Four-Ball, and neither one relished the matchup.

“We were pretty disappointed, especially that it wasn’t further along in match play,” said Chugg. “We’re both really competitive, and I thought we handled ourselves well.”

Added Potter: “That was the sixth Women’s Mid-Am that I’ve played in, and more often than not, you’re going to run into your friends playing in that event. We know how to separate the two. We wanted to play a great match, and for the most part we did.”

Chugg forced extra holes with a birdie on the par-5 18th hole, then made another birdie to win in 19 holes. Chugg eliminated four-time champion Meghan Stasi in the quarterfinals before losing the final to Johnson’s birdie on the 18th hole.

“I know how hard it is to come back and defend, and to make it that far and lose – I’ve felt all of those things,” said Potter-Bobb, who was runner-up in 2014 to Margaret Shirley-Starosto, a year after beating her in the championship match. “She should be incredibly proud of how she did that week.”

Now they’re partners, and if there was any doubt about whether they would mesh well, Potter-Bobb was assured of it at Norwood Hills.

“The funniest thing about that match is that – if you look at the first five holes – there were no halved holes,” said Potter-Bobb. “We either won it or lost it. We really know how to ham-and-egg, even when we don’t need the ham and egg.”

Now the two champions will seek the recipe for success at Timuquana.

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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