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Tess Blair is the Women’s State Amateur medalist and defending champ Kerstin Fotu rallies to make match play

Midway • As the stroke-play medalist and No. 1 seed, Tess Blair went on to win all four of her matches in convincing style in the 2018 Women’s State Amateur. She would love to follow the same formula this week.

“Hopefully, that’s some good vibes,” she said.

As the qualifying portion of the 114th Women’s State Am ended Tuesday on Soldier Hollow’s Gold Course, Blair completed a four-stroke victory. The Sacramento State golfer from Bingham High School shot 69-67 for a total of 8 under par, finishing ahead of 16-year-old Grace Summerhays (72-68), Southern Utah golfer Chanikan Yongyuan (72-69) of Thailand and four-time champion Kelsey Chugg (75-69).

Those four claimed the highest seeds for match play – and they would have made almost any pre-tournament list of the top five contenders. Two rounds are scheduled Wednesday, followed by the semifinal and final matches Thursday.

The field was reduced from 61 players to 16 for match play, with the cut coming at 11 over par. Tuesday’s biggest development was defending champion Kerstin Fotu’s rally. The BYU golfer from Alpine made three birdies on the back nine to post a 72, a 10-stroke improvement over her opening round, giving her the No. 14 seed and a first-round match vs. Yongyuan.

Fotu is among 10 collegians in the match-play field, joining five high school golfers and Chugg, 29.

Blair’s second round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 No. 8, where she hit a 7-iron to within 5 feet. With her outstanding college season having been halted in March due to COVID-19, Blair said, “I haven’t played this well since I left school, so I’m excited.”

Summerhays birdied the last three holes to move ahead of Yongyuan and into second place. Having made a swing adjustment after the first round, Summerhays said, “I just exaggerated it at the end and started hitting it good. The putter’s really good, which is always good in match play, and I’m starting to hit it a lot better, so I feel good.”

Photo Credit: Fairways Media/Randy Dodson