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It’s a Semi-Finals with all Four of the Top Seeds

By Beaux Yenchik, UGA Intern

 

Fruit Heights, UT – The lucky number of match play must be 21, or so it appeared.

Bonneville Golf Course welcomed the “Sweet 16” back for some more golf Wednesday as the 112th Utah Women’s State Amateur Championship began its match-play portion of the tournament. Lead by Bingham High’s Tess Blair, as the No. 1 seed, players took to the 6,263-yard course for yet another exciting day of golf in the state of Utah. Some players never saw the last few holes, while others played extra. As the dust settled in the mid-afternoon, the top-four seeds were all that stood.

Tess Blair (1)

Though the youngest of the four semi-finalists, Blair entered Wednesday's matches as perhaps the most consistent golfer on the course. Blair made short work of her morning match against the No. 16 seed, Karen Valcarce. Getting a head early, Blair found herself three up after the first three holes – never catching herself looking back. Winning in style, Blair took the match 7 and 6.

Her round of 8 match proved to be a little more testing as she faced Utah Valley University’s Kaylee Shimizu (9). For a match that was fairly even until the final few holes, Blair failed to take the lead until the 12th when Shimizu lipped out her par putt from 5 feet.

After taking the lead, something had clicked for Blair. With the gas pedal pushed to the floor, Blair cruised home to victory as she won the next two holes and finished the match 3 and 2.

Jessica Sloot (2)

Sloot, perhaps the hottest golfer at the given moment, absolutely coasted through her matches on day three of the tournament. Facing Emma Winfree (15) – one of three players to make into match play after surviving Tuesday’s playoff – Sloot showed no mercy in her 6 and 5 victory.

Going four up after nine straight pars on the front nine, Sloot gave one back on the short but difficult par-4 10th. Quick to respond, Sloot won her next three holes and sealed the match on the 13th green.

If Wednesday’s morning match wasn’t an indicator that Sloot may be on fire, then her first five holes against Carly Dehlin (7) certainly proved it – headed to the sixth tee box with a 5-up lead. After holing out for eagle on the short but uphill par-5 first, Sloot stuck her approach shot to within inches on No. 2 – talk about a hot start.

No matter what had Dehlin tried, Sloot was not giving any ground. Sloot won the match 5 and 4.

Kelsey Chugg (3)

Tying the largest margin of victory so far in match play this year, Chugg demonstrated why she is a four-time champion in this event and a force to be reckoned with. Taking on the No. 14 seed Whitney Banz in her opening match, Chugg got off to just a slight bit of a rocky start as she bogeyed two of her first three holes – still managing to hold to a one-up lead even after Banz doubled her opening hole.

With a game plan to simply hit fairways, knock it onto the green, and two-putt, Chugg certainly succeeded at doing so by taking the match 7 and 6.

However, the 27 year old’s afternoon match proved to be a little more testy. Facing her one-time college teammate Carly Savage (11), Chugg experienced something she has never had to deal with before – competing in a big-time match against a good friend.  

From past experiences, Chugg said that when she has played in light-hearted matches, she tends to get a little distracted from the purpose as to why she is there. For her, it was a test to see how mentally tough she was to stay in the match, while keeping the atmosphere light.

With a little uncertainty as to how the match would feel, Chugg fortunately got off to a quick start by winning the opening hole with a 5-foot birdie putt. Chugg would then lose the lead after Savage went pin-hunting on the very next hole – leaving her second just a foot away. By salvaging a par on No. 3 and capitalizing on each bad break Savage endured, Chugg gained a lead that she would never relinquish for remainder of the match – winning 3 and 2.

Xena Motes (4)

Wednesday was a long day for the first-round stroke play leader, Xena Motes. With both of her matches going to the 21st hole – a sign that maybe she needs a new lucky number – Motes managed to recover from both of her mid-round crumbles.

“It’s tough,” Motes said. “Mentally, it is a test. Honestly, that’s the only way I got through … Without that, I would have fell apart.”

Facing Anna Lesa (13) first, Motes kept her front nine pretty even keel. Having one birdie and one bogey, Motes watched Lesa struggle with five bogeys during that stretch to go three down.

After winning the 10th to go four up, Motes began to crumble as she watched her lead begin to slip away as she bogeyed holes 12-15. With a chance to put the match away with a par on the 18th hole, Motes bogeyed the hole to finish all square through regulation – forcing a need for a playoff

Winning with a par on hole No. 21, Motes then looked to face upcoming star, Kerstin Fotu, in the round of 8.

The afternoon match proved to be déjà vu for Motes as she finished the 12th hole again with a three-up lead. After three consecutive birdies to win three straight holes, she buckled again, but this time on holes 14-17. As the two both parred the 18th, Motes found herself again heading into extra holes and winning the match on the 21st hole.

Motes stated: “I like this course. It fits my game really well. It’s just all about making putts.”

Thursday Semi-Final and Final Matches

(1) Tess Blair v. (4) Xena Motes at 7:50 a.m.

(2) Jessica Sloot v. (3) Kelsey Chugg at 8 a.m.

*Championship match is due to tee off at noon but is subject to change if needed.

For complete results of today's action, CLICK HERE.