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Thrilling Women’s Quarterfinal Matches Set Up Exciting Semifinals, Finals Thursday at Wasatch
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Defending champion Kelsey Chugg and co-medalist Sirene Blair where never in command in their Utah Women’s State Am quarterfinal matches at Wasatch Wednesday afternoon, and in fact, both trailed most of the way, but each came through with very squeaky wins to advance to the semifinals Thursday morning.
Chugg never led until the final hole in defeating unheralded Haley Dunn from Dixie College, and Blair was forced to play an extra hole before barely getting past Utah Valley’s equally unheralded Brooke Whittaker.
The college coaches of both Dunn and Whittaker were on hand to observe the matches, and ironically, both are former Utah State Am champions. Rachel Newren coaches Dunn at Dixie and Sue Nyhus coaches Whittaker at Utah Valley, and both were very proud and impressed by their underdog performances.
In the other quarterfinal matches co-medalist Lea Garner coasted to a 5 and 4 win over 60-year-old Annette Gaiotti, and Tara Green edged Madi Rooker, 1-up.
Chugg, the defending champion, must have felt shell shocked when unheralded Haley Dunn began their quarterfinal match with two straight birdies and jumped to a two-hole lead right out of the starting gate. Chugg won the third hole, but it didn’t unsettle the confident Dunn and she held her slim lead throughout the front nine. Chugg finally squared the match for the first time on the 12th hole when Dunn bogeyed, but Dunn followed up the bogey with a birdie and regained the lead on the 13th.
Going onto the last two holes Dunn was still one-up and had never trailed in the match. Chugg birdied the par five 17th hole to square the match for only the second time all day, and then on the 18th hole the defending champ made a par that Dunn failed to match and for the first time all day Chugg had the lead and the victory at the same time.
Sirene Blair, one of Utah’s most decorated girl’s junior players ever, found herself trailing Whittaker right out of the chute when Whittaker birdied the first hole. Whittaker never trailed on the front nine and it wasn’t until the 13th hole that Blair finally took a one-hole lead, but Whittaker was nonplused and birdied 14, then lost the lead again, but birdied 17 to square the match.
Like a champion, Blair birdied the 19th hole to advance to the semifinals Thursday morning against—-drum roll—-Lea Garner. The two arch rivals have been battling each other in important matches throughout their young but active careers.
The Tara Green-Madi Rooker match was also a thrilling contest. Rooker, a 27-year old from Alta High, got off to a great start with three straight birdies on the fifth, sixth, and seventh holes, but Green, formerly of Weber High and now at the University of Montana, won nine, ten, and eleven with three straight birdies of her own to square the match, and she took a one-up lead when Rooker bogeyed the 12th hole. Rooker squared it on the 13th, but Green took control of the match by winning 14 and 15 and held on for a 1-up triumph.
The semifinal matches will be wonderful to watch beginning at 7:45 on the Lake Course at Wasatch Mountain.
Quarterfinal ResultsKelsey Chugg def. Haley Dunn, 1-upSirene Blair def. Brooke Whittaker, 19 holesTara Green def. Madi Rooker, 1-upLea Gardner def. Annette Giaotti, 5 and 4
Thursday Semifinal Matches7:40- Kelsey Chugg vs. Tara Green7:55- Sirene Blair vs. Lea Garner
Finals will be held Thursday afternoon