CAREFREE, Ariz. (Oct. 3, 2007)-- Defending champion Meghan Bolger, 29, of Haddonfield, N.J., and two-time runner-up Kerry Postillion, 44, of Burr Ridge, Ill., both won two matches Wednesday to advance to the 18-hole championship final of the 2007 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, being played at the 6,208-yard, par-73 Desert Forest Golf Club.
Bolger advanced with a 6 & 5 win over Lisa McGill, 48, of Philadelphia, Pa., and Postillion earned a 2-up semifinal victory over three-time Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Ellen Port, 46, of St. Louis, Mo.
Bolger took a 1-up lead after McGill doubled bogeyed the par-4 fifth hole and would never look back. She held a 2-up advantage after nine and won the next four holes to advance to the final for the second consecutive year.
One of the keys to success for Bolger has been getting an early lead and keeping it. She has yet to trail in five matches.
“You really want to keep the momentum going for yourself,” said Bolger, who earlier in the day ousted stroke-play medalist Dawn Woodard, 1-up. “I try not to be down at all because that gives the other person a little momentum. I’ve been fortunate now for a couple of people because they have missed short putts.”
Despite her return to the championship final, Bolger wouldn’t allow herself to think about becoming the first back-to-back winner since Port in 1995 and 1996.
“Ask me tomorrow,” said Bolger when asked to comment on the possibility of taking the trophy home for a second consecutive year. “Now I am not going to think about it. You can’t write your speech. You’ve got to play tomorrow. It’s another day. You can’t think about the end until it’s here.”
For McGill, who earned a quarterfinal victory Wednesday morning over 2007 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion Anna Schultz, 52, of Rockwall, Texas, in 19 holes, her loss to Bolger didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for making it to the semi-finals for the first time.
“I knew my odds were against me on this one,” said McGill, who often plays with Bolger in Philadelphia-area events. “My odds against everyone else were okay, but Meghan, she is so good. She’s got a great swing and everything is pure. And she rolled it beautifully. Really, it was such a thrill to get this far.”
In the other semi-final, a rematch of the 1996 Women’s Mid-Amateur final won by Port, 2 & 1, at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Port took the lead with a par at the first hole but gave it back with a bogey at No. 3. Port again took a lead with an eagle at the par-5 seventh hole, only to see Postillion again square the match with a birdie on the ninth.
Postillion would not trail again. She won No. 11 when Port bogeyed and built the lead to 3 up with another bogey by Port on the 15th hole.
But Port wasn’t done. She won the 16th when Postillion found the desert off the tee and went on to bogey. In her semifinal victory over 1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Virginia Derby Grimes, 43, of Meridian, Miss., Port almost aced the par-3 17th en route to a 1-up victory. She didn’t come as close against Postillion but still managed to win the hole and cut the deficit to 1-down after Postillion couldn’t get up and down from a greenside bunker.
On the 18th tee, Port decided to hit her driver, which she quickly regretted after her tee shot went right into the desert.
“I probably should have hit my 3-wood, which I could have right down the center of the fairway and put some pressure on her,” said Port. “I just could not hit my driver. When my driver is on, it’s the strength of my game, but when it’s weak like today it hurts me. I maybe should have put it away, but I didn’t.”
After hitting her second shot farther into the desert, she hit her third shot to the fairway. After hitting her fourth shot short of the green, she conceded the hole, and the match, to Postillion, who was safely on the green in two.
For Postillion, a member at Desert Forest Golf Club, she’s hoping the third time is the charm. In addition to her runner-up finish to Port in 1996, she lost to Mary Ann Lapointe in the 2005 championship final.
“That would be nice,” said Postillion. “There’s been so much support. I’ve never been in a tournament right on my home course. Everybody here has just been wonderful.”
Postillion doesn’t know how much of a home-course advantage she’ll have against Bolger, but hopes it will help her in at least one area.
“I think more than anything, I feel really comfortable on the greens,” said Postillion. “I walk up to my putts and it just feels good. At a lot of tournaments, I get over [my putts] and it’s, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
The 2007 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur concludes with Thursday’s 18-hole final.
--Story by Beth Murrison, USGA