NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – The semifinal matches were suspended on Wednesday evening at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, which is being conducted at the 6,117-yard, par-72 Harbour Trees Golf Club. Defending champion Julia Potter, 2013 runner-up and 2014 stroke-play medalist Margaret Shirley, four-time champion Meghan Stasi and 2011 semifinalist Tara Joy-Connelly won their quarterfinal matches to reach the afternoon’s semifinals.
However, Wednesday’s play was plagued by storms moving through the Great Lakes region. The quarterfinal round was suspended for dangerous weather conditions for one hour starting at 9:47 a.m. EDT, and play was delayed again at 1:45 p.m. Play resumed at 5 p.m., with Joy-Connelly/Potter having completed one hole of their semifinal match and Shirley/Stasi yet to tee off.
Play was suspended for the final time at 6:49 p.m. and called for the day at 7:15 p.m. Potter leads Joy-Connelly, 3 up, through 10 holes, while Shirley holds a 2-up lead over Stasi through nine.
Semifinal play is scheduled to resume at 8:15 a.m. EDT on Thursday. The starting time of the 18-hole championship final will be determined following the completion of the semifinal matches.
In the morning’s quarterfinal round, Potter, 26, of Granger, Ind., advanced with a 5-and-4 win over 2010 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Mina Hardin, 54, of La Quinta, Calif. Potter reeled off five straight wins with pars at holes 8-12 to build an insurmountable lead.
“For the first time, I put some good shots together and made some up and downs,” said Potter, who is attempting to become the first player since Stasi in 2006-07 to defend her title.
The mid-round rain delay was not kind to Hardin, whose fused back tightened up while the players waited for the resumption of play.
Shirley, 28, of Atlanta, never trailed en route to a 2-up victory over Debbie Adams, 47, of Asheville, N.C. However, Shirley was never able to pull comfortably clear of Adams, who Shirley eliminated in 19 holes in the Round of 16 in 2013 at Adams’ home club, Biltmore Forest Country Club, in Asheville, N.C.
Shirley carried a 2-up lead to the 11th, but Adams’ birdies at holes 12 and 13 brought the match back to all square. Adams had an opportunity to take her first lead at the par-4 15th, but her 4-foot par attempt lipped out. Shirley immediately took advantage, draining a 25-footer for birdie at the par-4 16th to regain the lead.
“I obviously wasn’t expecting to make it,” said Shirley, who took the victory when Adams found water off the tee at No. 18 and could not get up and down. “I was trying to two-putt. That was a hole location that you can’t go at, so I was happy with that putt there, and luckily I got it to drop.”
Stasi, 36, of Oakland Park, Fla., quickly built a 4-up lead through five holes over Christina Proteau, 31, of Canada. But the comfort was short-lived. Proteau, who is six months pregnant with her first child, slowly chipped away at Stasi’s lead, and pulled within one when Stasi could not convert a par comebacker at the par-4 16th.
The match turned at No. 18. Proteau’s tee shot stuck 14 feet from the hole, and Stasi responded by placing her ball a foot outside of Proteau’s.
“I knew she was going to hit a good one,” said Stasi. “I just stayed steady in the wind and made a good swing.”
Stasi missed her birdie attempt for a conceded par. And in dramatic fashion, Proteau drained hers to square the match and force extra holes – her fourth consecutive extra-holes match of the championship.
But the fourth time was not the charm for Proteau. After Stasi putted from the front fringe for a conceded par at No. 10, Proteau was not able to convert her 5-footer.
“I was fortunate with the way it came out,” said Stasi. “She chipped and putted the ball really well. And being six months pregnant, my goodness, that’s awesome.”
Stasi is attempting to join JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Carolyn Cudone, Bob Jones and Glenna Collett Vare as the only players to win the same USGA championship at least five times.
Joy-Connelly, 41, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., continued her quiet but steady march through the match-play bracket. Her 5-and-4 win over Liisa Kelo Escartin, 28, of Mexico, was her third victory by that margin, to go with a 6-and-5 win.
“I just feel like I’m getting on a bit of a mental roll, so if I can keep my head about me that will be good,” said Joy-Connelly. She is trying to reach her first USGA championship final, having fallen to Potter in the Women’s Mid-Amateur quarterfinals in 2013 and to eventual runner-up Martha Leach in the 2011 semifinals.
For the first time in championship history, three semifinalists reached the same point the ensuing year. Potter, Shirley and Stasi all made the semifinals in 2013 at Biltmore Forest, with Shirley eliminating Stasi in the semis before losing to Potter in the final. Paige Marsh Lea and Robin Weiss were semifinalists in 1989 and 1990, the only other occasion that multiple players reached consecutive semis.
The winner will receive a 10-year Women’s Mid-Amateur exemption, while the runner-up will receive a three-year exemption. All four semifinalists are fully exempt into the next two U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs. The 2015 championship will be held Oct. 3-8 at Squire Creek Country Club, in Choudrant, La., while Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa., will host the 2016 championship, Sept. 10-15. Potter, Shirley and Stasi were already exempt into both championships due to their play in past years.
The 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play. The championship is scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Thursday.
The U.S. 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. It is open to female amateur golfers who are at least 25 years of age.
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – Results from the quarterfinal round of match play at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,117-yard, par-72 Harbour Trees Golf Club:
Margaret Shirley, Atlanta, Ga. (142) def. Debbie Adams, Asheville, N.C. (152), 2 up
Meghan Stasi, Oakland Park, Fla. (151) def. Christina Proteau, Canada (154), 19 holes
Tara Joy-Connelly, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (152) def. Liisa Kelo Escartin, Mexico (158), 5 and 4
Julia Potter, Granger, Ind. (144) def. Mina Hardin, La Quinta, Calif. (159), 5 and 4
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – Current standing of the semifinal round of match play at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,117-yard, par-72 Harbour Trees Golf Club (play suspended):
Margaret Shirley, Atlanta, Ga. (142) leads Meghan Stasi, Oakland Park, Fla. (151), 2 up through nine holes
Julia Potter, Granger, Ind. (144) leads Tara Joy-Connelly, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (152), 3 up through 10 holes