ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Sept. 3, 2008) – If Meghan Bolger ever creates a scrapbook, this summer’s events could fill many of the pages.
"Exhilarating," said Bolger as she described the past four months. "There are moments when I reflect on this year and all I can do is smile. There were a few ups and downs, but that’s life, that’s golf. It only makes us stronger."
The summer of 2008 has taken Bolger throughout the United States and Scotland, thanks in no small measure to the USGA.
However, one of the biggest moments in Bolger’s life occurred last spring.
After serving seven years as the head women’s golf coach at the University of Mississippi, the school decided not to renew her contract after the 2006-07 season. A naturally gifted athlete who won seven consecutive Philadelphia Women’s Amateur titles from 1999 to 2005, Bolger used her newfound abundance of free time and lack of coaching obligations to improve her golf game and career.
Bolger’s ability to refocus on her game paid dividends for the 30-year-old Tulane University graduate on and off the course the past 15 months.
She qualified for the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., shooting 81-75 to miss the cut, successfully defended her U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championship last fall with a 1-up victory over Kerry Postillion at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, Ariz., and topped it off by being named to the eight-member 2008 USA Curtis Cup team. The squad claimed its sixth straight match on the venerable Old Course at St. Andrews.
And there was one more piece of excitement. During the post-Curtis Cup celebration, boyfriend Danny Stasi proposed to her on the famous Swilcan Bridge. The wedding is set for Feb. 7, 2009.
"The Curtis Cup experience [was awesome]," said Bolger of her most memorable moment of 2008. "The preparation; the initial phone call from [Chairman of the Women's Committee] Roberta Bolduc [notifying me of my selection]; the nerves on the first hole; sharing every moment with my family and friends; and of course my engagement to Danny. The worst [part] was having to leave; you never want it to end."
All of the success did not come without a few setbacks for the Oakland Park, Fla., resident. Bolger’s hot summer cooled a bit earlier in August at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur, when she missed the match-play cut at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club. Despite a disappointing opening-round 84, Bolger rebounded with an even-par 72, but her 12-over total was four strokes off the cut.
Bolger hopes to shake off that sub-par performance Sept. 6-11 at Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich., as she will attempt to become the first player in the 22-year history of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur to win three consecutive titles.
She is vying to become just the third player to win the event three times, joining former Curtis Cuppers Sarah LeBrun of Nashville Tenn. (1991, ‘93, ‘94) and Ellen Port of St. Louis, Mo. (1995, ‘96, 2000).
"A third victory would definitely add to my most memorable year," said Bolger. "It’s never easy to put into words what I feel about the first two [U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championships]. I reflect on the experiences all of the time. It means so much to me to share my golf and life with my family and friends."
Bolger realizes a three-peat is no easy task but welcomes the challenge.
"Winning the first, you've never done [it]; winning the second means good fortune. The next one is the most difficult. I hope there is [a third championship]," said Bolger, who played at the 6,189-yard Barton Hills for the first time at media day. "[On Donald Ross-designed courses] you are required to hit solid shots into every green, be creative around the greens and have confidence on the greens."
Even if she does not remain in possession of the Revere Bowl for another 365 days, Bolger plans to have an enjoyable and memorable week of golf in Michigan.
"The staff and committees have prepared for another prestigious USGA event," said Bolger. "Now, it’s up to the players to perform and put on a great show all week."
--Story by Kent Zakour, USGA