Martha Leach, 47, of Hebron, Ky., the sister of six-time USGA champion Hollis Stacy, won the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, defeating Laura Coble of Augusta, Ga., 3 and 2, at the 6,173-yard, par-72 Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club in Ocala, Fla.
On a brutal day when the heat index reached 107 degrees, nearly 200 spectators endured the temperatures to follow the final match.
Neither Coble, 45, nor Leach had played in a national championship final, although Leach had reached the semifinals four times and Coble was on the winning Georgia team in the 2005 USGA Women’s State Team Championship. They were also teammates on the women’s golf team at the University of Georgia.
Leach, in her 22nd appearance in the Women’s Mid-Amateur, won by playing steady golf and showing flashes of brilliance. The 10th hole, a difficult, 374-yard par-4, tested the field all week and the scoring average was 5.0, but Leach recorded her third birdie of the week on the hole, this time on a 15-foot putt, to go 1 up.
Pars at the 12th and 14th gave her a 3-up lead, but Coble nearly holed a wedge shot on the par-5 15th and made a birdie to reduce the lead to 2 up. On the par-5 16th, Leach hit a 60-yard wedge shot to within 3 ½ feet of hole, made the putt for a birdie and won the hole, ending the match.
It was a great way to finish, Leach said. I’m thinking in the 21 years I’ve played in this, an average 400 entries have been sent in (each year), 8,400 women have played and there have only been 23 champions. What are your odds of winning this? This year I was either going to win the lottery or win the Women’s Mid-Am.
Coble played well all week to make the final but made a few early errors. With the usual match-play concessions, she was three over par and Leach was even par for the 16 holes of the match.
Leach and Stacy are the second set of sisters and the first since the early 20th century to win USGA championships. U.S. Women’s Amateur champions Harriot Curtis (1906) and Margaret Curtis (1907, 1911, 1912) are the only other sisters to have won USGA titles. Stacy won the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 1969-71 and three U.S. Women’s Open titles (1978, 1979, 1984).
It’s special, Leach said of joining her sister as a USGA champion. It just means a lot…I love her but I have a lot of other siblings I love too. Hollis just happens to be a great golfer.
Said Stacy via telephone: I’m so proud of my little sister. She has a heart as big as the state of Georgia. Stacy and Leach are two of 11 Stacy siblings who grew up in Savannah, Ga.
In the semifinals, Leach and Coble both defeated past champions. Leach edged the 1998 champion Virginia Grimes of Meridian, Miss., 1 up. Coble defeated the 2006 and 2007 champion Meghan Stasi of Oakland Park, Fla., 5 and 4.