ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Julia Potter, 25, of Granger, Ind., needed a comeback from a three-hole deficit to take a hard-earned, 2-up victory over playoff survivor Stacy Dennis, of Huntsville, Texas, in Monday’s first round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at the par-71 Biltmore Forest Country Club.
Four-time and defending U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 35, of Oakland Park, Fla., rolled to a 5-and-4 victory over Julie Streng, of Greensboro, N.C., despite a hole-in-one by Streng. Third-seeded Margaret Shirley, 27, of Roswell, Ga., advanced with a 5-and-3 win over Suzanne Stanley, of Nashville.
Play was suspended due to darkness with the final two groups still on the course. Mercedes Huarte and Meredith Chiampa are all square through 17 holes, while Corey Weworski is 2 up over Suzi Spotleson through 16. Those first-round matches will resume at 9:15 a.m., while the second round will begin as scheduled at 8:15 a.m.
Potter, who earned medalist honors by a five-stroke margin, opened with an uncharacteristic double bogey at the par-4 first to give Dennis an immediate 1-up advantage. Dennis, who advanced through a 6-for-1 playoff to earn the 64th seed on Monday morning, added consecutive birdies at holes 5 and 6 to take a 3-up lead that she held through the next six holes.
“Finally on that par-5 (13th), things just started kicking into gear,” said Potter, a reinstated amateur who is competing in her second USGA championship.
Potter stuck her third shot at the 13th to an inch to cut the deficit to two holes. She sank a 35-footer for birdie at the par-4 14th to cut the deficit to one hole, and when Dennis missed a short par putt on the par-3 15th, the match was all square with three holes to play.
“I really like this back nine and that's why when I was three down at the turn, I wasn't really getting down at myself,” said Potter. “I felt if I went into 16 one down that I would have a chance to win the match and luckily I was able to go in even.”
Potter took her first lead of the match with a 15-foot birdie at the par-4 16th. Her pitch from the rough short of the green at No. 18 stopped 7 feet from the hole, and she captured the hard-fought win when Dennis three-putted for bogey and conceded Potter’s par putt.
“That's probably the hardest match I've ever played and I've played against some great players in the state of Indiana,” said a relieved Potter. “It was really a good match.”
The second-seeded Stasi played one-under par golf, with the usual match-play concessions, and won holes 5-8 to take a commanding 4-up lead.
Streng cut a hole off her deficit with her ace at the par-3 ninth. But the veteran Stasi proved too strong, regaining her 4-up lead with a birdie at the par-4 11th and taking the win with a birdie 3 at No. 14.
“I felt good out there,” said Stasi, who is seeking to become the fifth player to capture the same USGA championship at least five times. “(It was) a little breezy, but I hit the ball pretty solid and definitely eased into tomorrow.”
Marilyn Hardy, 52, of Houston, also collected a hole-in-one at the ninth. It was Hardy’s second ace in Women’s Mid-Amateur competition, as she previously made a hole-in-one in 2003 at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, S.C. Hardy eliminated Jennifer Lochhead, 2 and 1, and will face Potter on Tuesday.
Three-time Women’s Mid-Amateur stroke-play medalist Dawn Woodard, 39, of Greer, S.C., earned the day’s widest margin of victory, defeating Amy Ellertson, of Free Union, Va., 7 and 5.
“I felt really comfortable with my putter today and I felt that was the difference,” said Woodard, who reached match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August. “I wasn't worried about if I missed the green or had to get up and down because I felt like it didn't matter. Once I got on the green I was going to make it.”
Woodard will next face 2007 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion Anna Schultz, who eliminated 2012 USA Curtis Cup captain Patricia Cornett, 3 and 2.
The youngest player to reach match play, 25-year-old Olivia Herrick, of Roseville, Minn., advanced with a 6-and-5 win over Therese Quinn, at 63 the oldest player in match play.
“I feel like I played really solid,” said Herrick, who will meet Kay Daniel in Tuesday’s second round. “I tried to treat it like the last two days and just another round out here. I played well, so I feel really good.”
Martha Leach, the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and USGA Women’s State Team champions Laura Coble and Tara Fleming also advanced, while 2010 Senior Women’s Amateur champion Mina Hardin was eliminated.
Biltmore Forest members Brenda Corrie Kuehn and Debbie Adams both advanced to Tuesday’s second round. Kuehn took a 1-up victory over Judith Kyrinis, while Adams eliminated Stacey Arnold, 4 and 2.
Play was delayed for 90 minutes on Monday morning due to unplayable conditions. The course received nearly 2 inches of rain overnight from the remnants of Tropical Storm Karen.