Meghan Stasi made history Thursday at Wichita Country Club in defeating Carol Robertson, 2 up, and winning the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship on the 6,209-yard, par-72 William H. Diddel design.
Stasi, 32, of Oakland Park, Fla., joined Sarah LeBrun Ingram and Ellen Port as three-time winners of the 24-year-old championship. Stasi hugged her father Mike Bolger - her caddie for all three victories – and then ambled over to do a television interview while wiping away tears.
"Like Martha [Leach] said in her [recent players’ dinner] speech, she waited so long for her first win," said Stasi. "And to just have one is incredible. … The win today ranks up there with all the other wins. It’s been an incredible journey."
It was quite the voyage Thursday on another sun-splashed day. Stasi, who showed no hint of nerves, was dialed in from the get-go. Through the front nine she carded the equivalent of four under par with match-play concessions. She recorded six birdies through the first 11 holes, only one of them conceded. And all Robertson could do was watch helplessly as Stasi dropped in putt after putt.
"She made five or six 10-footers in the first six holes and just when I thought I had a chance – boom! – there’s another one at the bottom [of the hole]," said a dejected Robertson, who became a reinstated amateur on Sept. 5. "Right now it’s hard being so close, but she definitely outplayed me."
Stasi continually talked about seeing the line all day, adding that she felt like she was in the proverbial zone that athletes often reference. It helped her set the tone early, as she finessed in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 470-yard par-5 fourth hole to go 1 up. She won the next hole when she drained an 8-foot birdie putt and took No. 7, knocking in a 6-foot birdie putt, to get to 3 up.
Robertson, however, trimmed the lead with a well-timed and much-needed 30-foot chip-in on No. 8.
Any thoughts of a rout were put to rest when the players hit the back nine. Even though Stasi won the par-3 11th hole with an 8-foot, hole-high birdie putt, Robertson didn’t quit. The Old Dominion assistant golf coach won three successive holes by going par-par-birdie. On the par-4 13th, Stasi mis-hit a chip from the greenside rough before Robertson converted a lagging 5-footer. But 1 down was as close as Robertson would get. Robertson missed a critical 8-footer on No. 15 when the ball broke early, restoring a hole to Stasi's lead.
It came down to Stasi being 2 up with three holes to play. On the 156-yard par-3 17th, Stasi’s putter finally cooled off. She had a chance to close out the match as she hovered over a 12-foot putt. The ball lipped out, giving Robertson a last gasp as she headed to the 18th hole 1 down.
Robertson blocked her tee shot and followed up by finding a right greenside bunker. She looked down in frustration. In the meantime, Stasi stuck her approach shot to within 21 feet of the hole. When Robertson couldn’t get up and down, she conceded the match.
The two players embraced. Then Stasi looked at her dad and hugged him before her husband, Danny, raced onto the green to celebrate. Danny joked afterward that it was the only way the name ‘Stasi’ would get on a golf trophy. The two previous titles Stasi won were under her maiden name of Bolger.
When the spectators left, Mike Bolger sat outside the clubhouse in a reflective mood. He was simply trying to take it all in.
"I used to get nervous when she was at the foul line," he said of the many sports Stasi played growing up. "I don’t really get nervous when she plays golf. But she’s really a lot of fun to watch. I’m surprised I didn’t cry my eyes out more."
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Meghan Stasi, Oakland Park, Fla. (147) def. Carol Robertson, Virginia Beach, Va. (150), 2 up