Utah Women's State Amateur: Sirene Blair, Lea Garner tie for medalist honors
MIDWAY — Sirene Blair and Lea Garner always like to win, but weren't as concerned about it Tuesday afternoon as they finished up their second rounds at the Women's State Amateur at Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course.
Playing together in the final group of the day, Garner and Blair completed the stroke play portion of the tournament with identical scores of 142 to tie for medalist honors. But both players know the real tournament begins Wednesday with the start of match play.
Blair and Garner will join 14 other golfers, including defending champion Kelsey Chugg, who gets the automatic No. 1 seed, in the match play portion of the tourney. Two rounds will be played Wednesday with the semifinals set for Thursday morning and the 18-hole final Thursday afternoon.
Although they are two of the top women golfers in the state, neither Blair nor Garner has won the State Am before. Last year Garner knocked off Blair in the quarterfinals before being beaten by eventual champion Chugg in the semifinals. Blair came close to winning four years ago as a 14-year-old, but was overtaken by Natalie Stone on the back nine and finished second.
"Of course, you come here to win," Blair said about a goal of winning the Women's Am. "I came close one year when I was 14 and haven't been able to play in this as much (because of national golf tournaments)."
Garner, who just completed her freshman season at BYU, says she is playing very consistent now as she showed in Monday's first round when she hit all 18 greens in regulation. She knows match play will be a different story.
"Now it turns into match play and that's completely different," she said. "If I keep playing like I am, I have a chance."
Garner was a freshman on the BYU golf team this past year and represented BYU with other collegians this summer for three weeks in Asia. That was a great experience, but she's only played in one other tournament all summer.
In Tuesday's round, she trailed Blair by three shots at the turn, but pulled within one at the par-3 13th when she sank a long birdie putt and Blair bogeyed. Then Blair got into some trouble, hitting a shot under a tree at the par-5 17th and bogeyed, leaving the two in a tie.
Blair finished up her high school career at Bingham, where she won four straight individual and team titles and now will take her talents to San Diego State later this month.
If Blair and Garner win their first two matches Wednesday, they'll be matched up in Thursday morning's semifinals.
Chugg, who finished up at Weber State in the spring, finished in a tie for third at 145 with University of Montana golfer Tara Green and SUU golfer Rynae Baca. Two strokes behind them were Randi Stephens and senior golfer Annette Gaiotti.
Haley Dunn and Kristie Jensen tied at 149 and will meet in a first-round match. Julie McMullin, the 2011 State Am champion, came in at 150 along with Brooke Whittaker and Madi Rooker.
Among those who didn't make match play were 14-year-old Naomi Soifua, last year's runner-up, who finished at 154 and two-time champion Sue Nyhus, who finished at 158.
Utah Women's State Amateur
Stroke play results after 36 holes
142 — Lea Garner (71-71), Sirene Blair (70-72)
145 — Tara Green (72-73), Kelsey Chugg (72-73), Rynae Baca (70-75)
147 — Randi Stephens (74-73), Annette Gaiotti (73-74)
149 — Haley Dunn (74-75), Kristie Jensen (74-75)
150 — Julie McMullin (77-73), Brooke Whittaker (76-74), Madi Rooker (75-75)
151 — Sadie Palmer (77-74), Hannah Herman (77-74), Carly Oldroyd (76-75), Kalea Heu (74-77)
(Did not make cut for match play)
152 — Elizabeth Jones (79-73)
153 — Jordan Dougal (79-74)
155 — Allison Cluff (79-76), Naomi Soifua (78-77), Mary Bischoff (78-77), Nicole Begay (76-79), Selu Fotu (75-80)
156 — Heather Mathison (84-72), Courtney Smith (78-78)
157 — Nicole Thomas (78-79)
158 — Sue Nyhus (78-80)
159 — Rina Slade (80-79)
160 — Haylee Chugg (83-77)
Kelsey Chugg (1) vs. Kalea Heu (16)
Kristie Jensen (8) vs. Haley Dunn (9)
Tara Green (4) vs. Sadie Palmer (13)
Rynae Baca (5) vs. Madi Rooker (12)
Lea Garner (2) vs. Carly Oldroyd (15)
Annette Gaiotti (7) vs. Julie McMullin (10)
Sirene Blair (3) vs. Hannah Hermon (14)
Randi Stephens (6) vs. Brooke Whittaker (11)
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