Heather Nail wins Alabama Women's State Amateur
Heather Nail captures State Am <br> Photo courtesy AGA
Heather Nail captures State Am
Photo courtesy AGA
Heather Nail defeated Kathy Hartwiger in the 18-hole final of the 83rd Women’s State Amateur Championship at Gadsden Country Club on Friday by a score of 1 up.

In a closely contested match, Nail led most of the way, but a resilient Hartwiger took her all the way to the final green before coming up just short.

Nail, 19, hails from Hartselle and just finished her sophomore year on the golf team at the University of Mobile. She won four times this past year and was named Second Team, All-American in NAIA. Nail adds her second state title, as she won the Women's State Four Ball Championship (with Suzanne Stanley) in 2012.

In match played in searing temperatures on a beautifully conditioned course, Hartwiger, who has won this title a record-breaking 10 times, was trying to add to her legend.

She started with an opening birdie to go 1 up, but it would prove to be her only lead of the day as Nail responded with a 20 foot putt for a birdie two on the next hole to square the match. The next three holes were halved with pars, before a Hartwiger three-putt from the fringe allowed Nail to go 1 up through six holes. She would never relinquish her lead.

Both players struggled to bogey fives on No. 9 with Nail still 1 up. Hartwiger struggled on the next hole as well, conceding it to Nail, who doubled her lead. It would stay that way until an up-and-down for par on No. 15 allowed Hartwiger to cut into Nail's lead, but an errant Hartwiger second on 16 gave the 2 up advantage right back to Nail. However, the true champion that she is, Hartwiger captured the 17th with a rock solid par. But an errant tee shot far left on the closing hole, followed by Nail's drive sailing right down the middle, left Hartwiger, literally, with a very tough hill to climb. So it was that Nail was able to three-putt, but still tied the hole and thus won the championship match 1 up.

"I thought it was so key to keep the momentum going when I got ahead," Nail said. "I was able to make some good putts and that's what mattered. I really wanted to win this championship, but knew I would face a tough match as Kathy is a great, great champion.

"I just felt all week that this course fit my eye. I felt like I was able to figure out the greens well. I'm truly blessed to win this championship, especially against someone who is the Jack Nicklaus of Alabama golf. She's the best ever."

Hartwiger, 49, admitted that the heat and playing four matches in three days took its toll on her, but would take nothing away from Nail's win.

"Heather played a great match and was very consistent. She gave me very few openings and when she did, I wasn't sharp enough to take advantage. "I don't play and practice anywhere near as much as I used to and that's OK. I have my experience (to fall back on) and whatever happens, happens. I still have an awesome family that loves me very much." She did leave with a parting salvo though.

"I'm not done yet. I still think I have one or two (championships) left in me. I just the need some cooler temperatures."

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