Battling Her Game, Leach Finally Loses


Martha Leach, the 2009 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion, attempted a risky recovery shot on the 18th hole in her quarterfinal loss to Stefi Markovich. (USGA/Chris Keane)
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
October 9, 2013

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Eight players squared off at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Wednesday morning’s quarterfinal round, and in all four matches, the younger competitor prevailed. Among them was Stefi Markovich, of Canada, who won, 1 up, over Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky., the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and 2011 runner-up.

Leach, 51, was playing in her 25th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, extending her own record – Ellen Port, Carol Semple Thompson and Pat Cornett are next, at 23. Her 24th time advancing to match play in those starts broke a tie with Thompson, but she admitted to not being at the top of her game this week. 

“I came here not playing well, and so to get to the quarterfinals is pretty good,” said Leach, who drove it under a tree on No. 18 and made bogey, losing to Markovich’s two-putt par. “This golf course will make you lose your confidence; Donald Ross does that well. He puts a lot of doubt in your mind, and you can’t have doubt.”

Leach, the younger sister of six-time USGA champion Hollis Stacy, led only once in the match, after birdieing No. 5, but immediately lost No. 6 to a birdie by Markovich, 38, who won this year’s Ontario Women’s Mid-Amateur.

“You can say you’re gonna hit the shot, but you still have a little doubt,” said Leach. “You can’t just show up hitting it perfectly all the time. It would be nice, but that’s golf.”

Leach pulled even for the final time on No. 16, and both players made up-and-down pars on No. 17 to take it to the home hole all square.

“I normally don’t have my husband (John Leach) line me up on drives, but I’ve lost a little bit of confidence,” said Leach, whose Round-of-16 victory was her 38th Women’s Mid-Amateur match win, tying her with Robin Burke for third-most in championship history.  “I just pushed it a little right, probably 30 feet to the right of where I wanted to hit it and it didn’t turn over. I tried to hit a miraculous shot from under the tree.”

Leach left her second 40 yards short, near the first tee, and wedged to 25 feet, while Markovich was safely on in two.

“I didn’t make any long putts all week, and I thought, well, maybe this is my time,” said Leach, a 1983 graduate of the University of Georgia. But her putt slipped past the hole, and Markovich sank her par-saving putt to move on to the semifinals.

“We just played to each other’s level, which I don’t always like to do,” said Leach. “Nobody stepped up and took control. It came to the 18th and she got the better end of it.”

Ron Driscoll is the USGA’s manager of editorial services. E-mail him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

 

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