NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (Sept. 7, 2014) -- Margaret Shirley of Atlanta, the U.S. Women's Mid-Am runner-up in 2013, heads into match play as one of the players to beat. Now, after posting a three-under 69 on Sunday, Shirley is the medalist, at 142, and heads into match play as No. 1 seed.
One shot behind is first-round leader Dawn Woodard of Greer, S.C. Woodard actually held the clubhouse lead by eight strokes after the morning wave -- that is before Shirley made her move in the afternoon.
The leader board at Harbour Trees G.C. is packed with veterans of USGA competition, including AmateurGolf.com staff writer Lynne Cowan, who is tied for sixth after shooting 74-78.
Cowan told us that the Pete Dye-designed course isn't necessarily a bombers paradise.
"It's a real shotmaker's course," said the Davis, California resident. "You must hit the fairways to have any chance of making biride. The greens are shallow and it's hard to get the ball close."
Cowan was surprised that scores weren't lower, especially after Saturday's rains, which made the course play longer on Sunday.
WHERE Noblesville, Indiana, at the 6,117-yard, par-72 Harbour Trees Golf Club.
ROUND DETAILS (courtesy USGA)
Shirley, 28, of Atlanta, earned her first USGA stroke-play medal with a two-day total of 2-under 142. First-round leader Dawn Woodard, 40, of Greer, S.C., finished second at 143, followed by defending Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Julia Potter, 26, of Granger, Ind., at 144.
Shirley, Woodard and Potter ran away from the field, with the next-closest competitors finishing seven strokes behind the leading trio.
Shirley hit 15 greens in a round that featured four birdies to only one bogey. Her gap-wedge approach to No. 13 (her fourth hole) rolled within 1 foot of the hole for what she called a “great” birdie.
“I had a really good day,” said Shirley, a manager of Rules and competitions for Atlanta Junior Golf. “I hit the ball really solid and made a couple good putts at the end. It was a solid round for sure.”
Shirley’s bogey on the par-5 17th was her card’s only blemish, and it actually helped her club selection on No. 2.
“After what I did on 17 by going long, I took one less club,” said Shirley. That gap-wedge approach landed within 5 feet, and the Auburn University graduate was able to convert the short birdie putt.
As a former college player and coach, Shirley knows well the honor – and potential stigma – that comes with being medalist.
“That’s pretty cool to have (medalist) next to your name,” said Shirley, who fell in the 2013 final to Potter, who was also stroke-play medalist last year. “I know that worked out really well for her. But I know it can also be a curse as well. Each day’s a new day, and you hope it’s going to be a long week.”
Shirley’s 69 was the low round of the championship, and is tied for the second-lowest 18-hole score in championship history with eight other players. Woodard owns the record of 68, shot in 2005. Shirley’s 142 is tied with six others for the second-lowest 36-hole score in championship history, following Carol Semple Thompson’s 141 in 1993.