by Jerry Stewart, Monterey Herald
CARMEL, Calif. -- Back in 2005, it was veteran Lynne Cowan of Davis who stopped then-teenager Mina Harigae from winning a record fifth California Women’s Amateur Championship title.
Four years later, the tables turned.
While Cowan, 46, had her sights on a record fifth title, 13-year-old Casie Cathrea of Livermore had other ideas, coming behind from an early four hole deficit to claim her first CWAC title with a 4 and 3 victory in Saturday’s 36-hole finale at Quail Lodge Golf Club.
“It feels good,” said Cathrea, a freshman at Livermore High. “It’s been a goal of mine to win this tournament.”
“Yeah, it was kind of déjà vu. I thought, ‘Here we go again‘,” said Cowan, who routinely tangled with a young and rising Harigae earlier this decade. “I was thinking of the record and then not trying to think about it. Somewhere in the middle of the match, I just lost it.”
For Cathrea, who competed in the LPGA Challenge in September, the big difference would be a surge in the afternoon portion of the match. Clinging to a precarious 2-up lead through 30 holes, Cathrea increased her lead to 3-up on No.13 when, with a par in hand, Cowan skimmed a pitch shot from the fringe, her third, 15 feet past the cup.
Moments tater, on the par-5 15th with Cathrea still holding a 3-up edge, both players would find their balls landing in a water hazard. In what turned out to be the clincher, Cathrea rebounded by sticking her fourth shot to within a few feet of the pin to save par. Cowan, meanwhile, saw her fourth shot land 20-feet from the pin, leaving her a lengthy putt that she’d miss.
“She’s (Cathrea) improved a lot,” said Cowan who defeated Cathrea 5 and 4 in the 2007 championship. “I just had too many holes where I lost my rhythm and timing.”
In the morning round, Cowan jumped to a 4-up lead through the first nine holes thanks to birdies at No.2, No.4 and No.5. On the back-nine, however, Cowan opened with three consecutive bogeys on holes No.10 through No.12 to let Cathrea back in it. Cathrea seized the opportunity, making a birdie of her own on the 15th to put the match back to all-square. One hole later on the 16th, another Cowan bogey gave Cathrea the lead for good.
“Lynne’s been such a good competitor here. But when I fell behind early, I never got nervous. My dad (Harry, her caddie) helped keep me focused,” Cathrea said. “Once I got close, I just wanted to keep her close. Then when I got the lead, I knew that it was just a matter of matching her.”
For Cathrea, it was her fourth attempt at winning the title. She’d first play in the event at the age of nine.
Cowan, who’s one of the top amateurs in NorCal and was trying to pass Harigae and Shelley Hamlin on the all-time win list, said she expects the two to meet again. Instead of Harigae, the teen to beat is now Cathrea.
“It looks like if I want to get back on top, I’m going to have to get by the teenager again,” Cowan quipped.
“I definitely plan on being back next year,” Cathrea said. “I want to back this win up.”
View results for California Women's Amateur Golf Championship