Corey Weworski, 42, of Carlsbad, Calif., turned what was supposed to be a vacation into something more magical by defeating 40-year-old Virginia Derby Grimes of Montgomery, Ala., 5 and 4, in the final round of the 18th U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur on Wednesday.
At Holston Hills Country Club, Derby Grimes jumped out to a 2-up lead after the first two holes before Weworski won the next three to never trail again. When Weworski pushed in a 2-footer for the victory on No. 14, she headed for the 15th teeing ground.
"I didn't even know I won," said Weworski. "I just wanted to keep playing."
Said Derby Grimes, who struggled with every facet of her game after the second hole: "Today I didn't feel like I had it. It just wasn't there."
With her victory, Weworski earned a 10-year exemption into the Women's Mid-Amateur, an exemption into next year's U.S. Women's Amateur and will be exempt out of local qualifying for the 2005 U.S. Women's Open.
Prior to the championship, Weworski had made up her mind that she wasn't going to play. One of the main reasons had to do with leaving her two boys, 14-year-old Tyler and 12-year-old Ryan, behind. Her friend, Jamie Hoffmann, who played in the event but didn't qualify for match play, convinced her to send in an application months ago, telling her she could win.
Coming into the week, Weworski had planned to visit Tennessee landmarks once stroke play ended because she thought she wouldn't be around for any matches.
"I'm a realist," said Weworski, winner of the 1998 California Women's Amateur. "I didn't expect to go far."
Weworski entered the match as the underdog against Derby Grimes, who had won the 1998 Women's Mid-Amateur. Through five previous matches, she had trailed just six holes. In contrast, all of Weworski's matches had gone at least 18 holes. Two went into extra holes in fact.
On Wednesday, both players registered seven of 10 fairways and eight greens in regulation.
The first critical missed green for Derby Grimes occurred on No. 8, a 130-yard par 3. Using a 9-iron off the tee, her ball found the right greenside rough before she chipped to within 5 feet. Weworski stuck her drive to within 8 feet. When Derby Grimes missed the 5-footer that turned into a bogey, Weworski secured her first lead with a par.
"That right there was a turning point," said Derby Grimes. She had used an 8-iron off the tee on the same hole all week.
Weworski stuck her approach shot on No. 9 to within 12 feet of the hole and converted the downhill birdie putt to go 2 up. She purposely aimed to be above the hole all week because she "loves downhill putts."
Derby Grimes agreed the match killer for her came on No. 11, a 187-yard par 3. With both players in opposite greenside bunkers, Weworski got out to within 10 feet from the right side. Derby Grimes wasn't so fortunate, flubbing two shots in the sand before standing over a 30-foot putt from the fringe. At that point, Weworski grabbed a commanding 3-up lead.
"I wasn't getting them in close enough to give myself a chance," said Derby Grimes, who had been trying to become the fourth multiple winner of the championship.
A missed 4-footer for par by Derby Grimes on No. 13, which led to another Weworski win, and the match was all but over.
The victory hadn't sunk in even an hour after play had ended. Gripping a bouquet of flowers and the flag from the 14th green afterward, the gregarious Weworski said she had been in close touch with her family and friends back home through the duration of the championship.
"[Tyler] called last night and said, 'Mom, I just want to say I really love you and hope you win.' On the other hand, Ryan had been calling me all week and saying, 'Mom, please come home.' I told him, 'Let me give the phone to the next person I'm going to play and you tell them that, because I'm not going to lose on purpose.'"
The Women's Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.