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Coughlin takes Virginia Women's Amateur
(Virginia State Golf Association)
(Virginia State Golf Association)
RICHMOND, Va. (July 13, 20130 — Chesapeake’s Lauren Coughlin, 20, scored a 3-and-2 victory over Amanda Hollandsworth, 17, of Floyd to win Saturday’s scheduled 36-hole final at the 88th Virginia State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Championship at The Country Club of Virginia’s Tuckahoe Creek Course.

Coughlin, a redshirt sophomore at the University of Virginia, owned as much as a seven holes up lead in the afternoon session before outlasting Hollandsworth, a rising senior at Floyd County High School.

Coughlin became the third player in just less than 15 years to win back-to-back titles in the event. Northern Virginian Amanda Steinhagen (Oak Hill) notched consecutive victories in the championship in 2010-11, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since Burkeville’s Mandy Beamer repeated in 2001-02.

Incredibly, in her combined 10 match-play victories that she collected in capturing two straight triumphs at the event, Coughlin registered nine wire-to-wire wins. She trailed briefly—three holes to be exact—to start her semifinal round match on Friday.

With unbridled joy and pride, Coughlin, bearing a wide smile, shook the winner’s trophy at the awards ceremony with all of the enthusiasm of a kid getting ready to open a big present on Christmas morning. Then she delivered a little smooch to the silver.

“It means a lot and definitely feels really good. I really like match play,” said Coughlin, who will have her name engraved on the Kohler Trophy. “I knew it was going to be a lot tougher this year because everyone is playing really well right now.”

Coughlin won two straight holes to end the morning session, knocking in a 6-footer for birdie at the par-5 18th and owned a 3-up lead at the break. She quickly got momentum on her side after lunch by taking four of five holes from Nos. 20-24 to go a match-high 7 up. Owner of a 3-up lead, she started the surge by scoring a par-win at the par-4 second, the 20th of the encounter. She then rolled home birdie putts of 13 and 8 feet at the ensuing two holes before Hollandsworth mis-hit her chip shot at the par-4 sixth hole, the 24th of the match, as Coughlin, showing her uncanny consistency, made an easy par. Coughlin figured out the pace of the greens.

“I started making a lot more putts and hit better shots,” Coughlin said. “I turned it on there for a little bit.”

Despite battling putting woes for much of the match, Hollandsworth finally saw an 8-foot birdie chance drop at the 25th hole, the par-4 seventh. Six holes down, it was Hollandsworth’s turn to make a run and she won four straight holes from Nos. 28-31 to close the margin to two. She played that span in one under, while Coughlin uncharacteristically started missing greens and was three over.

Hollandsworth made a slippery 3-footer for a par at the par-3 10th, the 28th hole, and sensed she was starting to climb her way back.

“When I won 10, I thought, ‘I’m going to keep this going,’ ” she said. “I got more confident with my putting stroke and everything clicked.”

Coughlin approach shot missed the putting surface left at the 29th hole, the par-4 11th, and her 10-foot par chance caught the lower left lip, but didn’t fall. Thereafter, at No. 30, the par-5 12th, Hollandsworth used her enviable length to hit the green in two and calmly two-putted from 35 feet above the hole. Hollandsworth capped the rally at No. 31, the par-4 13th, where her approach found the green safely, while Coughlin tugged her iron shot into the front bunker and didn’t get up and down.

Coughlin stayed poised and even shared a good laugh with her caddie and friend at No. 32, the par-4 14th. At the same hole, after Coughlin snuggled her birdie putt close, Hollandsworth knocked in a pressure-packed four-footer, nearly chasing the ball into the cup as she earned an important halve.

At the 33rd hole, Coughlin converted on a nerve-rattling 4-foot comebacker for par that kept her advantage at 2 up. They’re the kind of putts that win matches—and titles.

“It was big because she had a lot of momentum, so I kind of shut it down a little bit,” Coughlin said.

She closed the match a hole later. Chipping from just off the putting surface, Hollandsworth’s shot scooted 15 feet past the hole. Coughlin was back to her fairways and greens routine and two-putted from 25 feet to end the match.

After Coughlin missed some greens during her opponent’s comeback, she seemingly turned it back on auto pilot and hit the final three of the match when the slightest mis-step could’ve proven costly.

“I thought, ‘She has to make the move,’ ” Coughlin said. “If she hits good shots, then she hits good shots. Other than that, I was just trying to stay in it.”

Hollandsworth made inroads but Coughlin’s consistency proved to be too much and the seven holes up lead she built loomed larger as the match progressed.

“I started to pick my game up there at the end, but I guess it was too late. My putts started falling but it was a little too late for that, too,” said Hollandsworth, who plans on attending Virginia Tech in the fall of 2014. “When you’re seven down in a match it’s hard. I’m proud of myself for coming as far as I did. To get to 16 after being seven down—it was amazing for me.

“I was kind of on an emotional roller coaster all day. I had my highs and I had my lows. She beat me mentally—and physically, too. She had the upper hand in this situation. She had been in this situation before and this was my first time in the final. It was a good experience for me. I learned a lot this week.”

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