West Point, Miss. (October 25, 2006) – Newcomer Meghan Bolger, 28, of Oxford, Miss., and veteran Thuhashini Selvaratnam, 30, of Sri Lanka advanced to Thursday’s championship match of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at the 6,151-yard, par-72 Old Waverly Golf Club by winning a pair of matches on Wednesday.
Bolger, playing in her first Women’s Mid-Amateur, defeated Jill Hardy of Canada, 3 and 2, in the semifinal round. Selvaratnam, competing in her fifth Women’s Mid-Amateur, defeated 1998 champion and three-time USA Curtis Cupper Virginia Derby Grimes of Meridian, Miss., 2 and 1.
Cold, wet conditions made golf difficult but Selvaratnam made an astounding birdie on the par-4 16th to take a 1-up lead and closed out the match at the challenging par-3 17 th with another birdie to close out the veteran Grimes, who played on the victorious ’06 USA Curtis Cup team this summer.
At the 16th Selvaratnam hit a fortuitous 7-iron approach shot that skimmed through the trees and fed down the slope at the back of the green to within three feet of the hole, where she holed the putt for a 1-up lead.
After hitting a 5-wood to within 15 feet on the 170-yard 17th, Selvaratnam watched Grimes barely miss her own birdie putt. “I thought, ‘If I can just make this, I don’t have to go down 18,’ ” said Selvaratnam, referring to the difficult finishing hole at Old Waverly that has claimed more than few victims this week.
She made the putt and clinched a spot in her first USGA final.
“Don’t ask me how I made birdies,” said Selvaratnam, “I have no clue. I just wanted to make pars. That was my goal.”
Bolger is the women’s golf coach at the University of Mississippi in nearby Oxford and several of her players and assistant coach Kelly Anders followed her on the back nine of her semifinal match.
But they missed seeing their coach make an eagle-3 on the par-5 ninth hole, where Bolger chipped in from 75 feet away to take a 2-up lead. It was the first eagle made on that hole this week.
“I definitely had a good feeling after the ninth, after the chip-in,” Bolger said. “After that I just hung in there.”
Bolger won the 11th with a par and holed a 25-foot birdie putt at 13 to go 4 up. She hit her third shot into a water hazard on the par-5 15th, losing the hole to Hardy’s bogey. Hardy had hit her tee shot into a creek. With a 3-up margin, Bolger made a three-putt bogey at the 16th but Hardy could do no better and Bolger advanced to the final.
Earlier on Wednesday, Bolger eliminated Marilyn Hardy of Houston, Texas, in the quarterfinals, 4 and 3, while Selvaratnam defeated Mari Miezwa of Brooklyn Park, Minn., 2 up. Jill Hardy advanced to the semis by eliminating three-time Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Ellen Port, 4 and 2, and Grimes edged Laura Coble of Augusta, Ga., 3 and 1, in a rematch from last year’s quarters, also won by Grimes, 1 up.
Selvaratnam and Bolger are scheduled to tee off at 8 a.m. Thursday in the 18-hole final. Selvaratnam is the more experienced player, having reached the semifinals of this championship in 2004 and the quarterfinals last year.
Selvaratnam, who was nicknamed “Tui” by her classmates when she helped Arizona State win three NCAA Division I titles, is also a golf coach. She’s the assistant at Xavier, a prep school in Phoenix.
The Women’s Mid-Amateur is open to women amateurs age 25 and older. It is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Rhonda Glenn, manager of communications for the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Point, Miss. – Results for the quarterfinal round of the 2006 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at the 6,151-yard, par 36-36—72 course at Old Waverly Golf Clubs CDT):
Meghan Bolger, Oxford, Miss. (152) def. Marilyn Hardy, Houston, Texas (159), 4 and 3
Jill Hardy, Canada (160) def. Ellen Port, St. Louis, Mo. (150), 4 and 2
Virginia Grimes, Meridian, Miss. (145) def. Laura Coble, Augusta, Ga. (152), 3 and 1
Thuhashini Selvaratnam, Sri Lanka (149) def. Mari Miezwa, Brooklyn Park, Minn. (151), 2 up
Bolger def. J. Hardy, 3 and 2
Selvaratnam def. Grimes, 2 and 1
West Point, Miss. – Starting time and pairing for the championship match of the 2006 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at the 6,151-yard, par 36-36—72 course at Old Waverly Golf Club. (Time is CDT):
8 a.m.: Meghan Bolger, Oxford, Miss. (152) vs. Thuhashini Selvaratnam, Sri Lanka (149)