STATE AM: Players make statements in second round wins

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Rose, Games and Rizer win big; Gumm advances

By Greg Crews



By GREG CREWS gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN — Survive and advance. It is often said that is the key to any tournament, but at the Elizabethtown Country Club on Wednesday, players appeared to have a different goal in mind. They were out to make a statement. Out of the eight second-round championship flight matches at the 82nd Women’s Kentucky State Amateur Championship, three were decided on the 13th green and only two went a full 18 holes. “I was thinking that even par every day would be enough to win this,” defending champion Jessica Grace said. “But heck, with scores like (the ones people shot today), I think I’m going to have to start making some birdies.” University of Kentucky signee Ashlee Rose made perhaps the biggest splash as she needed only 13 holes to get to six-under par and defeat 1984 champion Jessica Cornelius, 6 and 5. Elizabethtown’s Beverly Games and Bardstown’s Joan Rizer also sealed their matches after only 13 holes as they topped Lyndsey Bevill of Sanders and Murray State University junior Megan McKinney, respectively, 6 and 5. Through two rounds, Rose has only played 26 holes and Games just 27. “It does feel kind of weird only playing 13 holes each day, but I’ve been practicing for a while after my matches to make up for it,” said Rose, who feels like it could be shaping up to be her year. “I do feel it. I have it all together and everything is going into place. Everything is out on the plate, I just have to go and take it.” James T. Alton eighth-grader Lydia Gumm and Lindsey Wilson College junior Krista Burton took a bit longer to pull out front in their matches, but once they did there was no stopping them. With her match against University of Kentucky signee Laura McGehee all square after eight holes, Burton sparked a surge with a birdie on the ninth before also claiming the 10th, 12th and 13th holes to all but seal the match, which she won 3 and 2. “In match play it is really important to have a good stretch of holes to get that lead,” Burton said. “Once you get one or two up, your confidence is greater and you just play better.” Gumm trailed Krissy Martin of Louisville by one after three holes but stormed back with birdies on No. 7, 8, 10, 11 and 15 as she went on to beat Martin, 3 and 2. “When you make birdies in match play, you can really get up,” said Gumm, who felt the course was playing easier Wednesday than it had been. “The greens were checking a lot better today. You could actually hit it on the green without having it run off the back, which helped.” A day after rallying back from a three-hole deficit to make it through the first round, 2004 champion Lauren Scholl spared some of the dramatics. Scholl went out front on the fourth hole and never trailed in the match, which she sealed by rolling in a par putt on the 17th hole to defeat Central Hardin graduate and Middle Tennessee State University signee Karisa Akin, 3 and 1. “I played a lot better today than I have the last couple of days. I shot one-under par on the front,” Scholl said. “I’m hitting the ball well, I’m putting well and dad fixed my chipping yesterday, and that was the only thing that was going wrong, so it went a lot better today.” Grace got her first true test of the tournament and became only the third player so far to win on the 18th hole. She played two-over par for the round and defeated Lindsey Wilson junior Jessica Smith, 2-up. “I didn’t play as well as yesterday. I was two-over and I had a double (bogey), but other than that I was even par,” Grace said. “That was my strategy up until today, come out and make some pars, but I think I am going to have to make some birdies tomorrow to win.” While Grace’s match had the excitement of going a full 18, it still had nothing on the climactic finish of Laura Anderson and Kim Hartlage’s match. After 10 holes, Anderson, a University of Louisville golfer, led by two. On the par-3 13th, Hartlage, an Elizabethtown resident, took one back with a par and eventually pulled out to a one-hole lead by the 16th. In front of quickly growing crowd on the 17th, Anderson stuck her approach shot hole-high and curled in a 10-footer for birdie to tie the match. On the par-5 18th, both hit their tee shots down the middle of the fairway for chances to reach the green in two. Hartlage hit hers slightly left and ended up on the fringe, about 35 feet from the cup. Anderson hit hers just short and right of the green but a bad hop sent her ball into a greenside bunker. But just when things seemed to be getting bad for Anderson, she quickly turned the tables as her shot from the sand landed one foot short of the hole, hit the pin and stopped six inches from the cup. After conceding the birdie to her opponent, Hartlage rolled her putt from the fringe to within eight feet but lipped out her birdie to end the match. “I was just trying to make sure I got (the shot from the bunker) to the hole, but I’m glad it hit the pin,” Anderson said. “(Kim) is such a nice person, I just hate for the match to end like that.” After the match, Anderson said she was a bit surprised to be moving on to the quarterfinals. “This is my first tournament since playing in the NCAA (Tournament), and I have made some big swing changes,” she said. “I didn’t think I would even play in this, but I’m out here enjoying it.” Defending champions continued to have success Wednesday. In the first round, all five previous champs in the championship flight won their matches. After the second round, four are still alive: Grace, Rizer, Scholl and Burton. “I have won this five times. And the thing is, you think, ‘I still can,’” said Rizer, who feels her experience lends an advantage. “It’s a head game. We go out and play a golf course every day, but when we get in a tournament like this, it starts messing between our ears.” Unlike experience, home-field advantage has not been a major factor as Games is now the Elizabethtown Country Club’s only hope to have a member claim the crown. But with the way she has been playing, she certainly would not be considered a long shot. Games jumped out to an early lead over Bevill, claiming the first four holes before giving one back with a bogey on the fifth. After winning the eighth, Games made the turn up four, but had her lead cut to three after hitting into a hazard on the 10th. She quickly regrouped, winning the 11th, 12th and 13th to wrap up the match. “I have probably played only three or four rounds this summer, so if you asked me a couple of days ago how I was playing, I would tell you, “I don’t know,’” Games said. “But I have been playing really well. I love competition and the last couple of days I have been feeling really good about my game.” Greg Crews can be reached

at 505-1754