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Kelsey Chugg adds Utah Women’s Stroke Play to Career Win Column

Kelsey Chugg’s match-play record locally and nationally is so remarkable that it has created a myth about her golf game. It is simply not accurate to say the five-time Women’s State Amateur champion succeeds only in that format, because she’s also a four-time winner of the Utah Golf Association’s Mary Lou Baker Open in medal play.

“I know I need to work on a few things going into that event (Utah Women’s State Amateur),” Kelsey Chugg said, but Friday’s victory “definitely gives me confidence. It was good to hit some quality shots under pressure.”

Yet until Friday at Park City Golf Club, this part was true: Chugg had never won the Utah Women’s Stroke Play Championship. And she knew it.

In the middle of the back nine of the final roundhaving made two bogeys in three holes, Chugg said, “I had to have a little talk with myself, because I think it was in my head: ‘I haven’t won this tournament before.’ … To finally break through feels good.”

Runner-up Kerstin Ngakuru

The Stroke Play event was created in 2014 as a complement to the Women’s State Am, once that historic tournament returned to match play. Chugg (70-74) became the Stroke Play’s10th different winner in these 10 years. She finished one stroke ahead of BYU’s Kerstin Ngakuru (75-70), who made quite a comeback after starting the tournament with five bogeys in six holes.

UVU’s Abbey Porter celebrates a chip-in on No.9.

Bailey Anderson (77-70) and Utah Valley University’s Abbey Porter (71-76), who briefly held the lead after birdieing No. 1 as Chugg bogeyed, tied for third placeBYU’s Lila Galea’i (73-75), the 2021 champion and this year’s Mary Lou Baker Open winner, slipped to fifth.

Chugg took a one-stroke lead into the final round, evoking her memory of early June, when she led by three shots in the Mary Lou Baker Open at Hobble Creek GC before fading to third with a 77. “That crossed my mind today,” she said. “I tried to tell myself to just stay calm coming into today. I was pretty nervous, actually. It was definitely in my mind, like, ‘Don’t blow it again.’ 

That didn’t happen, thanks largely to her birdie on the par-5 No. 16, where Ngakuru (playing two groups ahead) had made a bogey. Ngakuru, the former Kerstin Fotu, finished second for the third straight year, while needing only a Stroke Play title to complete her career collection of Utah’s four major women’s golf trophies.

Chugg, 32, lacks only a Utah Women’s Open victory to match Tess Blair’s career achievement. Blair, the 2022 Stroke Play champion, didn’t enter this year’s event. She will compete in the 117th Women’s State Amateur, Aug. 1-4 at Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club.

As she drove home past Jeremy Ranch on I-80, Chugg could turn her thoughts to her State Am title defense. “I know I need to work on a few things going into that event,” she said, but Friday’s victory “definitely gives me confidence. It was good to hit some quality shots under pressure.”

Chugg, the associate director of Salt Lake City Golf, collected one of her four Mary Lou Baker Open victories at Park City GC in 2016.

Nuny Kham-one Khamken (84-81) won the Senior competition.

With a field of 44 players, the Stroke Play event awarded flight gross titles within the Championship division to Porter, 14-year-old Molli Mulhall (74-79) and Saydie Wagner (84-79). Nuny Khamone (84-81) won the Senior competition. Playing from different tees, Kris Buchanan (81-84) took the A Flight.

Net titles went to Isabel Gutierrez Paillaud, Annabelle Millard, Whitni Johnson/Corinne Lillywhite, Sharon Briggs and Christina Padan.

Click here for complete Utah Women’s Stroke Play Championship results.

Written by Fairways Media senior writer Kurt Kragthorpe. Photos by Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.