Meghan Stasi (USGA/Darren Carroll)
Kelsey Chugg, 28, of Salt Lake City, Utah, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and the 2018 runner-up, advanced in the 33rd edition of the championship on Monday with a 3-and-2 victory over Cindy Scholefield McConnell, the winner of the inaugural championship in 1987.
Despite the 30 years separating their titles and a 31-year age difference, McConnell, 59, of Bishop, Calif., made her opponent work after Chugg built a 4-up advantage, halving the deficit with wins on holes 14 and 15 before Chugg closed out the match with a winning par on No. 16.
“Cindy almost chipped in on No. 16, too,” said Chugg, who improved to 12-1 in match play in her three starts in this championship. “It was awesome to play against her. She’s such a great competitor and she still has a lot of game. She put the pressure on me.”
Chugg is one of seven U.S. Women’s Mid-Am champions who advanced in Monday’s Round of 64, although defending champion and No. 6 seed Shannon Johnson, of Easton, Mass., received a massive scare. Johnson, 36, made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 22nd hole to edge No. 59 seed Noelle Maertz, of Clark, N.J. Johnson needed a winning par on No. 18 to force extra holes against Maertz, 25, a Wagner College graduate and golf shop assistant at Ridgewood Country Club who was competing in her first U.S. Women’s Mid-Am.
Johnson will square off in Tuesday’s Round of 32 against seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port, 57, of St. Louis, Mo., who defeated Sydney Ramskill, of Salinas, Calif., 2 and 1. Port, who has four U.S. Women’s Mid-Am titles to her credit, most recently in 2011, earned her 60th match-play win in this championship on Monday, the most all-time, having first competed in 1989.
Another four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, Meghan Stasi, 41, of Oakland Park, Fla., outlasted Christina Proteau, of Canada, 4 and 3. Stasi, the No. 34 seed, who has the third-most match-play wins in this championship (49), moves on to face No. 2 seed Heather Wall, of Lakeland, Fla., who ousted No. 63 seed Sue Curtin, 5 and 4.
“The golf course is incredible; they set it up great today,” said Stasi, who last won this championship in 2012. “You have to be in the fairway and if not, you have to be able to work the ball. It’s a testament to the course. You have to have every shot in the bag out here.”
Whitney French, 28, of Monarch Beach, Calif., earned the No. 64 seed, the final spot in match play, by making a birdie on the second playoff hole on Monday morning. She edged out five other players who shot 12-over-par 156 in stroke play. French pushed medalist and No. 1 seed Julia Potter-Bobb, a two-time champion, to the 18th hole before losing, 2 up. French squared the match with a birdie on No. 15, but lost Nos. 17 and 18 to miss out on her bid to become the first player to topple a No. 1 seed in the Round of 64 since 1997.
Other past champions to advance were 2015 champion Lauren Greenlief, 29, of Ashburn, Va., the No. 15 seed, and 2009 champion Martha Leach, 57, of Hebron, Ky., the No. 12 seed, who earned her 44th match-play win on Monday, fourth-most in championship history.
ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur
The U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur originated in
1987 to provide a national competitive arena
for amateurs 25 and older. Besides the age
restriction, the event is open to those with a
USGA Handicap Index of 9.4 or lower. It is
one of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly
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