U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
Round of 32 Notebook: Shirley Jumps Out Early, Ousts Cornett September 8, 2014 By Ron Driscoll, Scott Lipsky

Margaret Shirley defeated Pat Cornett in a battle of U.S. Women's Mid-Am runner-ups. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. - Stroke-play medalist Margaret Shirley got off to a quick start against 2012 USA Curtis Cup captain Pat Cornett on the way to a 5-and-4 victory in the first match of the morning at Harbour Trees Golf Club.

She was fantastic, said Cornett, 60, who saw Shirley make four birdies on the outward nine in building a 5-up lead. It was really a nice showing, great ball-striking by her.

Cornett pared one hole off the deficit when Shirley caught a buried lie in a bunker on No. 11, and she had putts to win on Nos. 12 and 13, but narrowly missed both. When Shirley converted a testing up and down on the par-4 14th and Cornett’s par effort slid past, the match was over.

It didn’t happen for me, said Cornett. I thought I hit some good putts, but they just peeled off at the end.

Cornett will not play in next week’s U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J., as she is headed to Scotland, where she will compete in the Senior Ladies’ British Amateur at Royal Dornoch from Sept. 16-18.

I decided to go since the event is in the same area as places where I didn’t get to play two years ago, said Cornett, who suffered a broken ankle during the Curtis Cup Match in 2012 at The Nairn Golf Club. I’ll finally get to play Nairn. I’m very excited.

Shirley moves on to play Tobi Herron, of Columbus, Ind., in her bid to get back to the match-play final, where she lost in 19 holes to Julia Potter last October at Biltmore Forest Country Club.

I know she [Cornett] didn’t play as well as she would have liked, said Shirley. It was an honor playing with her; her playing record speaks for itself.

Defending Champion Earns Gritty Win

Julia Potter of Granger, Ind., the defending champion, held off a challenge from Charlotte Daughan, of Orlando, Fla., for a 2-and-1 victory in the Round of 32 on Tuesday morning. After Daughan answered Potter’s birdie on the par-4 16th hole to stay 1 down, Potter converted a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to close out the match.

If you have to lose, that’s how you want to do it, said Daughan, 30, who works in customer relations for Golfnow.com, which is owned by Golf Channel. Her husband, Ben, who caddied for her, is a producer for Golf Channel’s Golf Central.

Potter, who now has an 8-0 match-play record in this championship, birdied the par-5 11th to take a 2-up lead and the players halved the par-3 12th with pars.

Finally on 13, I said, the only way you’re going to win holes is to make birdie, said Daughan, who did just that, sinking an 18-footer to narrow her deficit. She couldn’t pull even, however. She [Potter] was in real trouble on No. 14 and made a beautiful up and down. On 15, she had a nasty lie in the rough [off the tee] and I hit an approach that landed on a downslope and ran through the green.

As a result, the players both missed 12-foot par putts on 15, and after their matching birdies on 16, Potter finished with a flourish on the par-5 17th.

She played great, said Daughan, who was the runner-up in the Florida Women’s Amateur this summer. It was a good match – I hope she can get back-to-back wins.

Stasi Hangs On To Win Through Tough Stretch

Early in her match against Kimberly Noonan, it looked as if four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi would move on to Tuesday afternoon’s Round of 16 without much resistance. The Oakland Park, Fla., resident made a pair of birdies to go with five pars to built a 4-up lead through seven holes. At that point, however, the vagaries of match play surfaced.

She had a great birdie on No. 8 and I just lipped out [my birdie putt], and then on No. 9 I hit it out of bounds, so there you go, you go from 4 up to 2 up, Stasi said after the match, which she ultimately won, 2 up. But I hung in there and just tried to stay as positive as I could out there.

The miscue on the ninth hole led to a double bogey and the start of a rough stretch for Stasi. A string of three-putts led to a bogey-double-double stretch on holes 10 through 12, cutting her lead to 1 up.

The opponents, who have an interesting connection – Noonan is a Louisiana State alumnus while Stasi and her husband, Danny, own an LSU-themed bar – halved the next five holes with pars. Noonan made a 6-foot putt to extend the match on the 17th hole.

Her tee shot on the par-3 18th ended her improbable comeback attempt. It caromed off the wall of the pond fronting the green and into the hazard. After taking a drop, her pitch shot hit the flagstick and nearly went in. But Stasi converted a routine par putt to seal the match and continue her march toward a record fifth Women’s Mid-Amateur title.

New Round, Same Result For Herron

For the second straight day, Tobi Herron went on an early run that allowed her to build a large lead and ultimately close out her match midway through the inward nine. However, unlike Monday’s Round-of-64 victory over Therese Quinn, where three early birdies lifted her to a 6-up lead through six holes en route to a 5-and-4 win, it was early the struggles of Herron’s opponent, fellow Indiana resident Cara Stuckey, that helped her to an early advantage.

With the match all square through three holes, Stuckey recorded three double bogeys and a bogey over the next five holes, while Herron stayed steady, winning Nos. 4-8 for a 5-up edge.

Stuckey’s difficulties were Herron’s good fortune, as she definitely noticed a difference in her ball striking on Tuesday from Monday’s victory.

It just wasn’t quite as good. I hit a few pulled shots. I’m still hitting it solid; I just need to have a little bit of a different swing thought for this afternoon, said Herron, who had previously competed against Stuckey in the Indiana Women’s Amateur, a championship Herron has won three times. Cara started off a little bumpy, so that was a little bit of a gift for me, but she turned it on coming down the stretch.

Indeed, Stuckey played holes 9 through 14 bogey-free and 1-under, but her early deficit proved insurmountable. The duo both hit great tee shots on the par-3 13th hole and traded birdies, and after they both made testy putts to save par on 14, Stuckey was 3 down with 4 to play.

Stuckey’s wayward approach on 15 found the greenside bunker, and after blasting to 10 feet, she missed her par save, setting the stage for Herron to make her par try from 4 feet to close out the match.

Ron Driscoll is manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org. Scott Lipsky is manager of websites and digital platforms for the USGA. Email him at slipsky@usga.org.