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Sometimes in golf, a player can shoot low and still lose.
Karisa Akin knows that first-hand, especially after this weekend.
Shooting for what would have been her third Women’s Kentucky State Golf Association State Amateur title in four years, the former Central Hardin High School and Middle Tennessee State University star shot a 68 but still fell to former Eastern Kentucky University standout April Emerson, 1-up on Friday in the championship match at the par-73, 5,526-yard Crooked Creek Country Club in London
“It was like déjà vu from last year, except it turned out the other way around,” Akin said of her 2012 title over Emerson at Elizabethtown Country Club. “I had six birdies today, but she just happened to have her birdies at the end where I had mine on the front. She had hers on the back and that’s just kind of how it worked out.”
Akin raced out to a three-hole lead through eight holes and tried to go into the turn 4-up, but she said she “hit too much club” and the bogey cost her the hole as Emerson trailed by two holes at the turn.
“She just kind of got some momentum,” Akin said of Emerson, who birdied 11 to cut her deficit to one hole and pulled even after 12.
Emerson struggled on the ninth hole as well, putting her ball on the edge – but not inside – of a water hazard. Emerson removed her shoes and socks to make the shot.
“I was about a foot deep in the mud at the hazard, but my ball was sitting up,” Emerson told Leigh Dannhauser of the Lexington Herald-Leader. “It turned out to be a good shot and I ended up winning the hole.”
On the 12th, Akin put her tee shot into the water – but didn’t realize it. When she went looking for her ball, she found a Callaway, the brand she plays, near a hazard and put ball onto the green.
“It looked like the ball had went in the water – and it did – but we weren’t for sure. But when I got up there, there was a Callaway, which is what I was hitting. So I thought it was my ball. It was a Callaway and had a red number on it,” Akin said. “So I hit it. But when I got up to the green, I realized it wasn’t my ball. My ball had actually gone in the (water) hazard.”
Akin called the penalty on herself, giving Emerson the hole and evening the score at all-square.
Even if she had hit her own ball, Akin said winning the hole would have been difficult.
“We might have tied, but I would have had to take a drop and a penalty,” she said. “Then I would have been hitting three from the fairway. But it ended up giving her more momentum, which is what match play is. Especially when it’s two players like us when our skill and ability is about the same.”
Both players made birdie on 13. Emerson birdied 14 while Akin made par to give Emerson a 1-up lead entering 15, but Akin birdied the hole to make it all-square entering 16.
Emerson and Akin tied 16 before Akin three putted on 17 – a hole she had made long putts on Thursday and Wednesday – to put Emerson back 1-up entering 18.
Akin needed to try to make a move on 18 to extend the match, but Emerson won the hole to account for the final advantage.
Emerson and Akin have combined for the last five titles, with Emerson winning in 2009, 2011 and 2013 and Akin winning in 2010 and 2012.
“To not have played coming into it (the tournament), I kind of have to play good,” said Akin, who does not have another tournament scheduled this summer. “I mean, I played well. It really was kind of like last year. She played her best and I had happened to just play a little better that day.”