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Logan Herald Article on Chugg Winning Women’s State Am
(This article was written by Shawn Harrison, sports editor of the Herald Journal in Logan. The photos are also courtesy of The Herald Journal.)
by Shawn Harrison
Consistent play paid off big time for Kelsey Chugg Friday at the Logan Golf & Country Club Friday.
The 21-year-old Utah native, who now calls Salt Lake City home, outlasted a fellow collegiate golfer and a 13-year-old to claim top honors among women in the Beehive State. Chugg used a surge just before the turn in the afternoon and held on to top Naomi Soifua for the 106th Utah State Women’s Amateur Championship title, 3 and 2.
“It’s been a blast, a roller coaster though,” said Chugg, who will be a senior this year at Weber State University.
Soifua just missed a 18-foot putt for par on the 16th hole after almost driving the green on her tee shot. A bogey was conceded.
“It was interesting to watch a 13-year-old bomb it by me,” Chugg said. “She hits it. She is going to be a great player. She has great nerves and is pretty awesome.”
Chugg sank a 3-foot putt for par on 16 to win the hole and end the match to the delight of supporters who followed her around the course Friday.
UGA officials set up a table and had an awards ceremony to the side of the 16th.
“This has been an amazing week,” UGA official Judy Allem said. “We have seen so many young players. … All of these girls are champions. This was a great final.”
The average age of the 106th Women’s State Am was 19.
Chugg reached the final match with a 3 and 2 win over Tara Green, who plays collegiately for Montana. That was a breakthrough for the Wildcat as she lost to Green last year in the quarterfinals in 20 holes.
“Tara Green is a great player,” Chugg said. “I felt like I really had to grind out that match to get through it. … I just wanted to get through that match (against Green). She is a player.”
Soifua, who will be an eighth grader at Orem Junior High this fall, topped BYU golfer and State Am medalist Lea Garner in the semifinals in 19 holes. The teenager held a brief lead in the championship match, 1 up after three holes.
Whatever momentum the 13-year-old had was quickly gone. That’s because Chugg seized it right back on the par-3 fourth hole.
Both golfers found the bunker on the left of the hole. Soifua barely got her ball out of the sand and onto the green. Chugg blasted out and watched her ball roll into the cup.
“I forgot about that,” Chugg said after the match. “That helped a lot. I had a bad hole before and kind of got some momentum.”
After they halved No. 5, Chugg won 6 when Soifua lipped out a 6-foot putt to take her first lead of the match. Chugg then won the eighth and ninth holes, draining a 12-foot putt for birdie after Soifua had sunk a 15-footer for par. Making the turn, Chugg was 3 up.
“I just have to go with the flow when I get something going,” Chugg said.
When it was looking like the more veteran player was going to run away, the youngster fought back. They halved the next five holes
“I was trying to fight back,” Soifua said.
Soifua had a chance on the par-3 13th to get a hole back, but missed a 10-foot putt. Chugg suffered a bee sting on her right thigh prior to a difficult long putt from the top shelf of the green.
“That threw me off a little bit,” Chugg said. “I had a really hard putt to begin with, but I didn’t want to slow the play down.”
While she was visibly smarting at the time, the State Am champion couldn’t even feel the sting after winning. She was also able to make a 5-foot putt for bogey to halve the hole.
Soifua had her second shot on the difficult par-5 14th roll off the back of the green, then struggled a bit with her short game. Chugg would sink a 10-foot putt for par as the two halved another hole.
The Orem native won just her second hole of the match on No. 15 when Chugg missed a 6-foot putt. However, Chugg ended the match on the next hole.
“Kelsey played great all week long,” Allem said.
Chugg had played another young phenom in the quarterfinals Thursday, beating 12-year-old Kirsten Fotu, 7 and 5.
“You have to treat every competitor the same at this point,” Chugg said. “They are good enough to get here, they are good enough to do anything.”
Both players shed a few tears for different reasons.
“I just tried to play my best and I was able to do that,” Soifua said. “Today was kind of disappointing. I got tired and let it get to my head and didn’t play so well.”
It’s hard to fault the youngster. In four days, she had played 112 holes of golf. The most competitive golf she had played in a short period of time was 54 holes in three days.
“It was a good experience,” said Soifua, who played in the State Am last year, but failed to reach match play. “I loved playing with the players I played with. They were really good. They were great examples to me.”
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