As the final group teed off at No. 1 at Oakridge Country Club, naturally a showdown between BYU's Jamie Stevenson and Weber State's Kami Whitehead was expected. Afterall, they were co-leaders at 3-over heading into the third round of the Women's State Amateur golf tournament.
Of course they were aware that two-time champion Lachell Poffenberger loomed just two strokes behind, but the last time she was crowned champion was 1991. The college kids may have had momentum, but Poffenberger had the experience - and it paid off."I just played consistently and let them make the mistakes. If I shot a 72 and lost, how could I complain," said Poffenberger.
Her precise accuracy with the irons, woods and putter all afternoon paid off as she fired a second consecutive 71 and recorded her third amateur title.
"Of the three wins, this feels the best," she said.
Why? Take your pick. It could be that the night before she fired a second-round 71 she was injured in an automobile accident tnat left the right side of her face and her left arm severely bruised. She almost withdrew but opted not to at the last minute.
Perhaps it could be that she had just one month to practice because she had been living in Japan with her husband, who was on business from January to June.
Either way, she should've been rusty and nowhere near the top of the leaderboard. When she fired a opening-round 78, it appeared living in a country where green fees rival the cost of a TV was just too much to overcome. Poffenberger wasn't worried, though.
"I knew I had a chance," she said. "Nothing against Kami, but I didn't think she could put in a couple more 71s. I thought she'd shoot in the mid-70s."
It was only a hunch, but one based on experience. And sure enough, first-round leader Whitehead fired a 76 second-round score to open the door a little.
Stevenson was still considered the favorite, and everyone else was playing catch up as she owned a one-stroke lead heading into the 12th hole. That's when her game fell apart. Still upset over a missed put on 11, she let her anger spill over and her drive ended up behind a pine tree. She double-bogeyed that hole, and then No. 13 as well.
"It takes me too long to get over things," Stevenson said, who really never experienced pressure after winning the championship by 10 strokes last year. "It was a different atmosphere, I had to handle myself differently, and I got out of my game."
On the 13th, the hole Stevenson basically dropped out of the race, Whitehead stepped up. She buried a 8-foot birdie put on the par 3 to open up a one-stroke lead on Poffenberger.
Any potential 18th-hole drama quickly subsided when Pof-fen-ber-ger birdied 15 and 16, and Whitehead countered with a pair of bogeys.
Stevenson and Whitehead each finished at six over, two shots off the pace. Summer Fenstermaker shot 9-over par for the tourney while Terry Hansen finished in fifth at 11-over par.
"After the accident, I considered withdrawing," Poffenberger said. But then she figured she had the perfect excuse if she played poorly, so what the heck. "Maybe I just relaxed, and that's why I played so well."