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Kelsey Chugg Repeats As Utah Women’s Amateur Champion
Kelsey Chugg repeated as champion of the Utah Women’s State Amateur Thursday at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course by defeating heralded prep phenom Sirene Blair, 4 and 3, and what was expected to be a classic contest unraveled quickly as Chugg won every other hole on the front, three of them with birdies, and had a five-up lead at the turn of the 18-hole match.
Chugg was error free on the front, which magnified the atypical errors by Blair who got off to a sputtering start with some poor chipping that handed several holes to Chugg on a platter.
A lightning threat forced a break at the turn, and provided a timely interlude for Blair who needed to gather herself for the back nine. The break, along with a huge five-hole lead, broke the rhythm of the match for Chugg, and she didn’t win a hole on the back, but she didn’t need to win a hole. All she needed was to not lose five. Blair won the 11th hole, her only hole of the day, and time ran out on her on the 15th hole.
In hind sight the odds were in Chugg’s favor from the beginning. With her victory four of the last five champions have won back-to-back titles. In other words, championships are not flukes and they are often repeated, especially at the Utah Women’s Amateur where for the last 13 years the champion has repeated more often than not.
Chugg joins an illustrious list of recent repeat winners this century: Annie Thurman, Rachel Newren, Daphne Vines, and Natalie Stone.
Still, this was no sure thing for Chugg. Two of Utah’s most heralded prep players, Sirene Blair and Lea Garner, have been waiting their moment of crowning, but that moment will have to wait for at least another year.
Blair and Garner met in the semifinals and had a glorious, almost error free contest, with Blair gaining a 1-up victory on the last hole when Garner’s ten-foot slightly breaking birdie putt slid over the left edge of the cup.
Blair and Garner’s semifinal match was almost errorless. Neither one missed a fairway all day and it was rare when they weren’t both on the green. All seven holes that were won in the match were won with birdies. Usually there is a bogey in there somewhere. Scores aren’t official in match play, but their medal scores showed Blair at five under and Garner at four under.
In the other semifinal Chugg survived a rally by Tara Green who came from two down with four to play and squared the match on the 17th hole. Green’s marvelous comeback went for naught when her left breaking two and a half foot putt on the 18th hole lipped out and advanced Chugg to the finals. Chugg also escaped defeat in the quarterfinals when she was down one to Haley Dunn with just two to play. Chugg birdied 17 and won 18 with a par to win 1-up.
Thursday’s ResultsSemifinalsSirene Blair def. Lea Garner, 1-upKelsey Chugg def. Tara Green, 1-up
FinalsChugg def. Blair, 4 and 3