Morgan Pressel, 17, of Boca Raton, Fla., won the 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship with a 9-and-8 victory over Maru Martinez, 21, of Venezuela in the scheduled 36-hole final at the 6,341-yard, par-72 Settindown Creek Course of Ansley Golf Club.
“It’s my biggest win,” said Pressel. “I’m proud of myself for how I played and how I handled myself through the week. …I just kept waiting and it all came together this week…It just means so much to me to have played this well.”
Pressel took an immediate lead when Martinez had tree trouble on the first hole, bogeyed and lost the hole. A birdie at the third gave Pressel a 2-up lead. Martinez rallied with a winning par on the short fifth and won the seventh with a birdie to square the match.
The players were closely matched with Pressel making the turn at three under par and Martinez at two under par, with normal match-play concessions.
But Pressel’s relentless iron play and steady putting helped her dominate the later holes of the morning round and throughout the afternoon.
Pressel holed a 3-foot birdie putt to win the ninth and go 1 up. Martinez fought back, holing a 24-foot chip on the 12th for a birdie and squared the match when Pressel missed a 9-footer to halve the hole. But the deadlock was only momentary.
Pressel birdied three of the next six holes to go into lunch with a 4-up lead.
“Definitely on 16, 17 and 18, I started to not play well,” said Martinez. “It was like my body wasn’t responding the way I wanted it to. I was probably tired because I just tried to do the same thing but nothing went right.”
Pressel and Martinez are petite but sturdy and Pressel had a 20-yard advantage off the tee in the morning. An hour of rain during the lunch break would seemingly put Martinez at a distinct disadvantage. On the wet fairways, both got little roll on their tee shots. Where Martinez had previously approached the greens with short- and mid-irons, she was forced to hit longer irons in the afternoon, which meant less accuracy on Settindown Creek’s small targets.
Pressel got even less roll and was also hitting longer clubs for her approach shots, although with greater accuracy.
Martinez had trouble finding the greens after the lunch break, losing six holes, two with balls in the water. She won just two holes in that stretch and was in the desperate category of being eight holes down with nine to play.
With softer greens any ball struck near the flagstick stuck like a dart. Pressel continued the sharp iron play she had demonstrated all week. On the 19th hole she hit it to within six feet of the hole and the birdie putt was conceded. She hit it to within three feet and made birdie at the 20th. Her approach to the 22nd hole was within six feet for a conceded birdie. At the 26th hole, another 5-5-foot birdie putt was conceded.
“I struck the ball extremely well this week,” said Pressel. “I made a lot of putts.”
The match ended quickly on the par-5 28th hole. Martinez hit the green in regulation, but three-putted from 45 feet, the last miss coming from five feet. Pressel was on the fringe in three strokes, just 16 feet away and hit her first putt to within a foot of the hole. Martinez conceded the putt before missing the par putt to extend the match.
Pressel had an outstanding week of golf. In 142 holes week, both match and stroke play, she was 36 under par. She’s on her way to Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort next week to defend her title in the North & South Women’s Amateur to be played on the No. 2 (site of the 2005 U.S. Open) and No. 8 courses, then will compete as an amateur in two professional events. She will also attempt to survive the first stage of qualifying for the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.
The Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs.