San Antonio – Representing her native Georgia, Laura Coble has been a member of three winning teams at the USGA Women’s State Team Championship. With two more wins at Briggs Ranch, she can also claim the individual title that has long eluded her.
Coble, 48, of Augusta, defeated Christina Proteau, 29, of Canada, 5 and 4, on Wednesday morning to set up a semifinal match against three-time champion Meghan Stasi at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
The other semifinal will feature Liz Waynick agains the only remaining Texan in the field, Stacy Dennis, of Huntsville. Waynick defeated 2004 champion Corey Weworski, 50, of Carlsbad, Calif., 2 and 1, while Dennis needed 19 holes to outlast Debbie Adams, 45, of Asheville, N.C., at the 6,074-yard Briggs Ranch Golf Club.
Semifinal matches began at 1:15 p.m. CDT, with the winners meeting in Thursday’s scheduled 18-hole final at 9 a.m.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, for female golfers 25 years of age and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Coble played a mistake-free match against the long-hitting Proteau. Proteau won the first hole with a birdie-3, but it was all Coble after that. She squared the match with a par at the second and pulled ahead for good with a par at the fourth. In total, Coble made four birdies and no bogeys with normal match-play concessions.
“I gave myself some good chances,” said Coble, who was runner-up to Martha Leach in the 2009 Women’s Mid-Am. “I haven’t had a lot of those this week, so it was nice to have some shorter ones.”
Coble’s semifinal opponent is no stranger to playing deep into the Women’s Mid-Amateur. She won titles in 2006, 2007 and 2010. Coble’s caddie, Dori Carter, played her college golf at the University of Mississippi, where Stasi served as her head coach for two years before being let go by the school after the 2006-07 season.
Stasi, 34, of Oakland Park, Fla., didn’t need to make any heroic comebacks on Wednesday morning, as she did in her second-round match on Tuesday against Lynne Cowan when she erased a five-hole deficit with six holes to play in a 21 hole-victory. Still, Stasi was pushed to the 17th hole by a scrappy Andrea Kraus, 52, of Baltimore, Md., who was playing in her 22nd USGA championship.
“Andrea is a good player and she grinded out there and made a lot of putts,” said Stasi, who played a total of 39 holes in her two matches on Tuesday.
The result of the match was still very much in question on the 17th green. Stasi held a 1-up lead, but had 12 feet remaining for par, with Kraus a few feet closer. What seemed like a good opportunity for Kraus to square the match quickly evaporated when Stasi rolled in her putt and Kraus’ bid to extend the match rolled past the lip.
“I hit the ball great and didn’t make a ton of putts, but made them when I needed to,” said Stasi.
Dennis, 39, of Huntsville, Texas, was behind for most of her match against Adams. She was 1 down going into the 18th, but was able to force extra holes when Adams shoved her approach into the right trees and was forced to take an unplayable lie. Dennis then two-putted for par from 20 feet to earn the victory on the first extra hole.
“[Except for the 18th hole] she did not miss any shots or any putts all day,” said Dennis, who is playing in her third Women’s Mid-Am, but had never advanced past the first round. “I don’t play a whole lot of golf so it’s just kind of a lottery every time I go out. I’ve already exceeded my expectations.”
As the only Texan remaining in the field, Adams is thrilled to still be playing.
“Just to win one match would have been special because … I’ve got a bunch of my friends around volunteering,” said Dennis, who served as the president of the Texas Women’s Golf Association in 2011. “It’s such a great field and such a good championship, so to win anything is pretty special.”
Waynick, 52, of Scottsdale, Ariz., has still not trailed at any point in the championship. Waynick again jumped out to an early lead in her quarterfinal match against Weworski, winning the first two holes. She was still 2 up at the par-3 15th, but pulled her tee shot 20 yards to the left of the green.
“I told my caddie I was going to hit my ‘Phil Mickelson,’ ” said Waynick. “I flopped it to about 4 feet and made the putt. That was a key hole.”
Waynick played in the 1976 U.S. Women’s Amateur and 1977 Girls’ Junior, but got into the golf business in 1985, serving as the director of golf at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., and head golf professional at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. Both venues have hosted past USGA championships.
She stopped playing competitive golf for nearly 25 years, but wanted to start playing some tournaments again after retiring in 2000. Because of various injuries to her shoulder and elbow, however, she did not enter another USGA championship until the 2011 Women’s Mid-Am. A year later, she is in position to compete for the title.
“I’m just ecstatic right now, I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Waynick. “This is the highlight of my life.”
Michael Trostel is the curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at email@example.com.