Forty-five-year-old Mary Ann Lapointe of Ontario, Canada, outlasted medalist Kerry Postillion, 42, of Burr Ridge, Ill., 1 up, Thursday at the 6,124-yard, par-72 Shadow Hawk Golf Club course to win the 19th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur
In doing so, the 1986 reinstated amateur became the first foreign-born player to win the championship and sixth Canadian overall to win a USGA event. It was also extremely satisfying because last year she had to withdraw days before the event after suffering bruised ribs in a car accident. This year marked the fourth time the four-time Canadian Amateur winner played in the championship.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Lapointe, who is from Georgetown, a town of 15,000 people. “I have lots of support back home. … Not many people were working. Lots of people were watching the Internet.
“It has been a goal of mine to win something outside of Canada. To win the Mid-Amateur was a real goal of mine.”
For Postillion, a 1993 reinstated amateur, it meant more disappointment at the end of a Women’s Mid-Amateur. In 1996 she lost to Ellen Port, 2 and 1, on the final day.
“It was almost similar to that match,” said Postillion in reference to 1996. “I started off slow.”
On a broiling, humid day, Lapointe assumed control early, kick-starting herself to a 2-up lead after the first two holes. She pushed it to 3 up on the sixth hole with a well-earned up and down. Standing in the left greenside bunker, she got out by banking the shot off the undulating green and watching it roll 20 feet back toward the hole. She converted the 2-footer.
Every aspect of her game was solid in building a 4-up advantage after seven holes. Up to that point, she had struck every fairway and recorded five greens in regulation. Conversely, Postillion had been rather pedestrian in finding just three fairways and two greens.
“I started off slow,” said Postillion, who this week played her most competitive golf since 1996. “I did that in a couple other matches this week. Mary Ann, she wasn’t going to let up.”
Even if Postillion did force her hand. Heading to the 11th teeing ground 4 down, Postillion gave herself a pep talk. It worked. She promptly sank a 7-foot birdie putt to win the hole. The 12th began an ominous five-hole run where Lapointe couldn’t find the fairway, opening the door for a steadier Postillion. It also explained why Lapointe carded three bogeys and one double bogey over that span, as her lead evaporated to 1 up by No. 17.
Prior to that she had conceded the 15th when she sliced her drive into a wooded area, leading to the double bogey. Her subsequent pitch to the fairway ricocheted off a tree and bounded 20 feet back just off a cart path. Another pitch got clipped by trees, grabbing her ball.
As Lapointe clung to the 1-up lead heading to No. 17, she tried keeping positive thoughts.
“I didn’t hit the panic button,” said the 1998 medalist, her first year playing in the event. “On the 17th tee, I told myself to forget what’s happening. I had been sloppy the last few holes. But I said, ‘I’m 1 up with two to play. A lot of people would be thrilled to be in my position.’”
On the penultimate hole the two halved with pars. It all came down to the par-5 18th. Calling it her best drive of the match, Lapointe’s shot off the tee found the center of the fairway. Postillion invited trouble by landing in the left fairway bunker. After getting out, Postillion chunked her approach shot and the ball scooted about 40 yards. Calm and collected, Lapointe placed her 90-yard approach 15 feet above the hole. Postillion, 50-plus yards out, had no choice but to go at the flagstick.
“It’s an easy hole to hit that shot when you’re 1 up,” said Lapointe. “It’s very difficult when you’re 1 down.”
Postillion’s offering curled around the green, stopping 12 feet away from the hole on the fringe. When Lapointe’s first putt stopped inches short of the hole, Postillion conceded.
“I never got it going,” said Postillion, also citing fatigue from a long week as a factor.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs.