WOMEN'S AM: After considering not playing, Anderson reaches championship (06/27)

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By Nathaniel Bryan



By NATHANIEL BRYAN nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWNLaura Anderson wondered if playing in the 82nd annual Women’s Kentucky State Amateur Championship would be a worthwhile undertaking after making a change to her swing recently. As it turns out, the past few days have been worth a lot to the former Monroe County High School star and current member of the University of Louisville women’s team. After beating 26th-seeded Emma Robinson, 3 and 1, in her round of 32 match Tuesday, Anderson rallied for a 1-up win Wednesday against Elizabethtown Country Club’s own Kim Hartlage in the sweet 16. Anderson followed those two wins with two more on Thursday, beating 2004 champion Lauren Scholl, 3 and 1, in her morning quarterfinal before rallying by third-seeded Ashlee Rose of Lexington in the lower bracket title match in the afternoon, 1-up. So today, a player who thought she didn’t have much to play for is playing for it all. “I was expecting absolutely nothing. I just wanted to get my swing down,” said Anderson, playing in her first State Am since she won the first flight when she was still in middle school. “For me to still be here, I’m happy.” She should be. After her 9:30 a.m. title match today, Anderson or her opponent – eighth-seeded Beverly Games, an ECC member for a little more than three years and an-ex Marion County and Eastern Kentucky standout – will become the seventh consecutive first-time champion. Like Anderson, Games didn’t expect – when she entered her name into the 96-player tournament – to still be playing on Friday. As a mother of two young children, Games has been able to play only a handful of rounds this year. But Games’ perception of what she is able to accomplish got a drastic overhaul Tuesday when she beat former Central Hardin standout Tonya Puckett, 6 and 4. “At the beginning, no I didn’t think I’d still be playing,” said Games, who won the championship flight consolation bracket in 2006 and was beaten by eventual champion Taryn Durham in the 2005 final four. “But after Tuesday’s round with how well I played, I knew I had a shot if I kept playing that way.” Games kept playing that way Wednesday and early Thursday, rolling by 24th-seeded Lyndsey Bevill, 6 and 5, in the sweet 16 and beating defending champion Jessica Grace in the quarterfinals, 7 and 6. When Grace won the title at her home course last year, she was a lot like Games because she has two young children which keeps her from playing a lot of golf. “When I walked off the course, Jessica told me she hoped I had the same experience she had last year, which was very nice,” Games said. In Thursday’s semifinals, Games was finally challenged by five-time champion Joan Rizer. Rizer and Games are not strangers as Games needed 21 holes to beat the St. Catharine College coach and former pro in the 2005 second round at Shelbyville Country Club. Rose advanced to play Anderson with a 5 and 4 win over 2006 champion Krista Burton, while Rizer advanced to play Games with a 1-up win over James T. Alton Middle School eighth-grader Lydia Gumm. This match didn’t go quite as long, but Games needed 19 holes to beat Rizer, 1-up. Games birdied the first playoff hole, while Rizer just missed a putt that would have forced a 20th hole. Games’ key shot was her second in which she pitched to within 3 feet from the hole from about 30 yards out. “I knew it would be a tough match. Joan’s a great competitor. You can’t ever count her out. I fully expected her to make that putt on 18 to force the playoff,” Games said. Like Games, Anderson had to endure a bit of drama as well. Against Rose, Anderson trailed by one hole at the turn like she did against Scholl. But Anderson quickly rebounded, winning hole No. 11 with a birdie and No. 12 with a long putt from the left side of the green. Both players bogeyed 13 and Rose tied the match with a long putt from the fringe on 14. Anderson won 15 with an 8-foot putt, both players tied 16 and Rose drained a slow roller from the left side on 17 to make the match all-square heading into 18. Rose outdrove Anderson on the par-5, 477-yard 18th, but Rose sent her second shot to the back left part of the fringe, while Anderson played into the fairway just outside the front of the fringe. Both players missed putts on their third and fourth shots, but Anderson’s was close enough for Rose to concede the par. With the chance to force a playoff hole, Rose left her putt from the right just short. With the way the wind had picked up in the afternoon – a far cry from the relatively breezeless play Monday-Wednesday — Anderson admitted putting was an adventure in the semifinals. “The wind picked up quite a bit,” Anderson said. “These greens are just so hard. You can’t stop anything on the green. There’s just no way.” After today’s match, the Anderson-Games winner could be wondering why she thought there was “no way” she could win the tournament. Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 505-1758 WOMEN’S KENTUCKY STATE AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP ELIZABETHTOWN COUNTRY CLUB ELIZABETHTOWN Thursday’s results and today’s pairings for the 82nd Women’s Kentucky State Amateur Championship. CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT Upper Bracket (8) Beverly Games def. (1) Jessica Grace, 7 and 6 (12) Joan Rizer def. (4) Lydia Gumm, 1 up (8) Beverly Games def. (12) Joan Rizer, 19 holes Lower Bracket (7) Laura Anderson def. (18) Lauren Scholl, 2 up (3) Ashlee Rose def. (6) Krista Burton, 5 and 4 (7) Laura Anderson def. (3) Ashlee Rose, 1 up Upper Bracket Consolation (17) Bethany Yates def. (9) Danielle Kom, 6 and 5 (5) April Emerson def. (20) Cindy Summers, 5 and 4 (17) Bethany Yates def. (5) April Emerson, 3 and 2 Lower Bracket Consolation (15) Morgan Cross def. (23) Courtney Wallace, 19 holes (22) Sarah Colbert def. (30) Abby Smith, 3 and 1 (15) Morgan Cross def. (22) Sarah Colbert, 1 up FIRST FLIGHT (5) Lindsay Gahm def. (9) Martha Tallent, 4 and 3 (3) Susan Loyd def. (2) Laurie Goodlett, 2 and 1 Consolation (8) Stephanie Watts def. (13) Sloane Skinner, 1 up (15) Jillian Brake def. (11) Toni Davenport, 1 up SECOND FLIGHT (4) Kristen Kilgore def. (1) Erin Marshall, 2 and 1 (10) Kaela Smith def. (3) Lauren Goodin, 4 and 2 Consolation (8) Dennise Mudd def. (12) Diane Dawson, 3 and 2 (14) Laura Beth Harris def. (15) Annette Nimmo, 2 and 1 THIRD FLIGHT (4) Christina Dages def. (1) Marcia Gauding, 3 and 2 (6) Tina Marshall def. (7) Ashleigh Howerton, 5 and 4 Consolation (8) Betty Williamson def. (12) Leta Taylor, 3 and 2 (11) Margaret Whittet def. (10) Kristie Wilson, 1 up FOURTH FLIGHT (12) Julia Brown def. (8) Linda Neikirk, 3 and 2 (2) Carol Ferguson def. (11) Lili Riddle, 3 and 1 Consolation (13) Tammy Pryor def. (16) Treva Montgomery, 5 and 3 (7) Barbara Hambly def. (6) Terry Tracey, 5 and 3 TODAY’S PAIRINGS CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT 9:30 a.m. – (8) Beverly Games vs. (7) Laura Anderson Consolation 9:04 a.m. – (15) Morgan Cross vs. (17) Bethany Yates FIRST FLIGHT 8:56 a.m. – (3) Susan Loyd vs. (5) Lindsay Gahm Consolation 8:48 a.m. – (8) Stephanie Watts vs. (15) Jillian Brake SECOND FLIGHT 8:40 a.m. – (4) Kristen Kilgore vs. (10) Kaela Smith Consolation 8:32 a.m. – (8) Dennise Mudd vs. (14) Laura Beth Harris THIRD FLIGHT 8:24 a.m. – (4) Christina Dages vs. (6) Tina Marshall Consolation 8:16 a.m. – (8) Betty Williamson vs. (11) Margaret Whittet FOURTH FLIGHT 8:08 a.m. – (12) Julia Brown vs. (2) Carol Ferguson Consolation 8:00 a.m. – (13) Tammy Pryor vs. (7) Barbara Hambly