SAN ANTONIO, TX (Oct. 11, 2012) -- Meghan Stasi made history on Thursday at the 26th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
Stasi, 34, of Oakland Park, Fla., joined Ellen Port as the only four-time champions of the Women’s Mid-Amateur with a 6-and-5 victory over Liz Waynick, 52, of Scottsdale, Ariz., on the 6,062-yard, par-72 Briggs Ranch Golf Club.
Stasi, who also claimed the title in 2006, 2007 and 2010, became the 16th golfer to win the same USGA championship at least four times.
Last month, Nathan Smith joined that elite fraternity when the 34-year-old from Pittsburgh claimed the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Conway Farms Golf Club in suburban Chicago.
Other notables to achieve the feat include Ben Hogan (U.S. Open), Jack Nicklaus (U.S. Open), Bob Jones (U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur), Mickey Wright (U.S. Women’s Open), Carol Semple Thompson (USGA Senior Women’s Amateur) and JoAnne Gunderson Carner (U.S. Women’s Amateur). The record for the most titles in the same championship is six by Glenna Collett Vare (U.S. Women’s Amateur).
Port, the 2012 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion, claimed her fourth Women’s Mid-Am last year. She lost in the third round of this year’s championship.“Never in my life did I think I would be here right now,” said Stasi. “So I’m so appreciative to everybody… It’s a very long week for all involved, and you really just have to stay mentally and physically prepared. A few matches were very grueling, but I just stayed on top of my game and hoped for the best.”
The 6-and-5 margin matched the largest for a Women's Mid-Amateur final, joining Cindy Scholefield (1987) and Sarah LeBrun Ingram (1991).
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, for female golfers 25 and older, is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The competition began last weekend with 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play that began on Monday and concluded with Thursday’s 18-hole final.
An overcast and humid morning greeted the finalists, but the match didn’t heat up until Stasi rolled in a 10-footer on the par-4 ninth, the first of four consecutive birdies on the card (two conceded), to take a 2-up lead at the turn. Stasi’s expression of relief when the putt fell over the lip indicated the frustration she was having on the greens to that point. She had won the par-3 third with a par, but the other seven holes on the outward nine were halved, including a pair of bogey-6s on the par-5 seventh.
“It was definitely slow with the putter,” said Stasi of her early struggles. “I was fortunate to hit the ball where I wanted to. I was actually over-reading a bunch. I had many opportunities on the front to make a couple and didn’t. It was a long front nine, but made some great [putts] on the back nine.”
Stasi, a member of the victorious 2008 USA Curtis Cup Team, wound up winning five consecutive holes to close out the match. A 9-foot birdie at the 10th hole put her 3 up, and back-to-back concessions for birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 pushed the margin to 5 up. She punctuated the victory with a winning bogey-6 at the par-5 13th hole. Stasi had similarly closed out her semifinal victory over Laura Coble of Augusta, Ga., on Wednesday by winning six consecutive holes (Nos. 8-13).
Waynick, who was nursing a blister on the inside of her left foot that developed during Wednesday’s quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, was consistently outdriven by the long-hitting Stasi, who enjoyed as much as a 100-yard advantage. On some holes, Waynick was hitting fairway metals into greens compared to short irons for her opponent. But Waynick didn’t use the blister or Stasi’s power as an excuse.
“I’m not a long hitter,” said Waynick, who lost to Nancy Lopez in the third round of the 1976 U.S. Women’s Amateur. “I just didn’t play well today. All of us who play golf, we have good days and we have bad days. And I played great all week. She’s just a great champion.
“If I could blame [my loss] on [the blister, I would be lying.”
But Waynick did struggle with her putter, especially getting the right speed. She made several pars on the first nine to stay in the match before Stasi took control.
“I felt like some alien invaded my body when I was putting,” said Waynick, a former director of golf at Pumpkin Ridge in suburban Portland, Ore., and former head pro at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., two venues which have hosted USGA championships. “My putts were just horrible.”
Two days earlier, Stasi was on the verge of being eliminated when she trailed Lynne Cowan by five holes with six to play in a second-round match. A remarkable rally – one of the best in the championship’s history – propelled Stasi to victory in 21 holes. The No. 2 seed from stroke-play qualifying was taken to the 18th hole by local favorite Kelley Nattoli (2-up win) in the third round, and on Wednesday morning she was challenged by a feisty Andrea Kraus (2 and 1) before beating 2009 runner-up Coble in the semifinals.
Stasi was asked if she was destined to hold the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Trophy again after pulling out that improbable victory.
“I still had four matches to go,” said Stasi. “I felt great after that match. [But] I had to get ready to play again. I’ll obviously think about that round later today. I haven’t been able to think about that round and what I did because I just had to stay focused all week. Just something came over me and I just continued to play well.”
Notes: Stasi’s father, Mike Bolger, has been on the bag for all four of Meghan’s Women’s Mid-Amateur victories, and has worn a different colored USGA-issued caddie bib each time. “I had a white bib, a blue bib, a yellow bib and now a red bib,” said Mike, who will turn 62 next March. “Once you get the first one that is really something, to say you are a USGA champion. Just building from there has been great. It’s special.” … One of the golfers Stasi joined as a four-time champion in the same USGA championship is the late Dorothy Porter, who won four USGA Senior Women’s Amateurs, as well as the 1949 Women’s Amateur. Both Mike Bolger and Stasi knew Porter and attended her funeral in July. Stasi is also close to Ellen Port, the woman she now shares the Women’s Mid-Am record with and a five-time overall USGA champion. “Meghan being friends with those people and that close to them is pretty special,” said Mike Bolger… Liz Waynick received 22 text messages on Thursday congratulating her on her accomplishment this week. Her good friend from Arizona, Barbara Byrnes, flew out Wednesday to catch the championship match. Another close friend, Jean Tichenor, walked with her the entire week. “Her legs were so swollen [Thursday] morning, she almost couldn’t get up,” said Waynick… The champion receives a gold medal, possession of the Women’s Mid-Amateur Trophy, a 10-year exemption from qualifying for the Women’s Mid-Amateur and exemptions into the next two U.S. Women’s Amateurs. The runner-up receives a silver medal, a three-year Women’s Mid-Amateur exemption and an exemption into the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina. Waynick said she plans to play in the Women’s Amateur next August… Next year’s Women’s Mid-Amateur will be conducted at Biltmore Forest C.C. in Asheville, N.C… Thirteen of the 26 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs have been won by four women: Stasi (4), Port (4), Sarah Lebrun Ingram (3) and Carol Semple Thompson (2).