Brooke Hamilton (left) and Lani Elston (PNGA photos)
Brooke Hamilton (left) and Lani Elston (PNGA photos)
Brooke Hamilton of Auckland, New Zealand sank an 8-foot birdie putt to take the 36th hole for a 1-up victory over Alivia Brown of Gig Harbor, Wash. and win the 114th Pacific Northwest Women’s Amateur Championship. Lani Elston of Milwaukie, Ore. outlasted defending champion Amanda Jacobs of Seattle in the final match to win the 14th Pacific Northwest Women’s Mid-Amateur.

The two championships were held concurrently at BanBury Golf Course in Eagle, Idaho, and conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).

Hamilton, the No. 3 seed, had been as much as 5-down to Brown, and was still 4-down after 22 holes in the 36-hole match. But she would win five of the next nine holes to take a 1-up lead after 31 holes. Brown didn’t cave, winning the 32nd and 33rd holes to re-take the lead, but Hamilton won the 34th hole to square the match, leading to her birdie putt on the 36th hole for the win.

Brown had made six birdies in the match’s morning round.

“Alivia played some really good golf,” Hamilton said afterward. “That was tough. I just told myself to keep going.” On the 36th hole, a par-5, both players had a birdie putt, and after Brown missed hers, Hamilton stepped up to herattempt. “I was shaking, and breathing hard,” she said with a laugh.

Hamilton is a 17-year-old phenom from New Zealand, where she has won multiple Order of Merit championships, including the South Island Women’s Stroke Play and the Lochiel Women’s Open, and last month represented New Zealand at the Junior Golf World Cup in Japan. Later this month, Hamilton will play in the U.S. Girls’ Junior in Tulsa, Okla.

Brown just finished her sophomore year playing on the Washington State University women’s golf team, and last month won the Washington State Women’s Amateur.

Elston was the medalist in the stroke play qualifying rounds of the Women’s Mid-Amateur, earning the No. 1 seed going into the championship’s match play bracket and a bye in the first round, while Jacobs was the defending champion looking for a repeat win this year. Of today’s final match, Elston said it was a lot of fun.

“We were enjoying ourselves,” she said. “But it was also really good golf. I think I was two or three under par, and Amanda was right there with me. We were hitting shot for shot. It really was a wonderful match.”

With a 1-up lead standing on the tee of the par-5 18th hole, Elston said she stuck to her game plan, to hit the fairway and green. “I wanted to make her have to birdie the hole (to extend the match),” she said. They both missed birdie putts on the 18th green, giving Elston the 1-up victory.

Elston had won more than 70 junior events, and was named the Washington Junior Golf Association Player of the Year in 1999 after winning the junior state championship. She was home-schooled as a youth, but played on the golf team for four years at Ferris High School in Spokane, and was named the team’s MVP all four years, setting the state scoring record in the 2001 high school championship. During those years she was a two-time AJGA All-American.

After high school Elston played golf one year at the University of Idaho before transferring to the University of Arizona, where she played three years on the women’s golf team, being twice named Pac-10 Honorable Mention.

Elston graduated from Arizona in 2005 with a major in music. Her initial plan was to try to play on the LPGA Tour, but her grandparents were ill at the time so she returned to Spokane to be closer to family. She now lives in Milwaukie, Ore., where show owns a piano instruction studio.

First held in 1899, the Pacific Northwest Women’s Amateur Championship is one of the oldest amateur golf championships in the world. Past champions include Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Famers who made up the Golden Age of female golfers in the Northwest such as JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Jo Ann Washam, Pat Lesser Harbottle, Edean Ihlanfeldt, Violet Pooly Sweeney, Marcia Fisher, and Betty Jean Hulteng, among others. Past champions also include many others who would later go on to the LPGA Tour, such as Jimin Kang, Peggy Conley, Ruth Jessen and Shirley Englehorn.

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