Date: June 26, 2008

Stacey Keating’s Western Amateur experience

After 20 hours in the air we arrived into Atlanta, Georgia to be greeted by our hosts holding up a red balloon! We stepped off the plane in our jeans and a hoody. Bad idea! The temperature was around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) and considering we had come from around 12 degrees it was a little bit of a shock! We arrived at what was going to be our home for the next 12 days. A huge house with a convertible for Steph Na and I for the next couple of weeks! Really roughing it in Atlanta! After a good sleep to rid some of the dreaded jet lag we headed out onto the course, Summergrove Golf and Country Club to prepare for the Western Amateur. We played practice rounds and did some practice for the next few days before the tournament started on Monday. Both of us were very impressed with the Arnold Palmer design course. We played two qualifying rounds before the field was cut down to 64 for the match play. Steph shot 75, 75 and I shot 78, 72 so we ended up on the same score for tied 24th. Neither of us were really happy with our qualifying scores but we were pleased to be playing in the match play! First round Steph played Lindy LaBauve from Scottsdale, Arizona which was always going to be a tough first round encounter. She fought really hard all day, however found herself dormie 3. She kept fighting it out, playing solidly with birdies on 16 and 17 to take LaBauve down the 18th. LaBauve played her approach first into the 18th finishing eight foot from the pin. Steph, knowing only a birdie at worst will do, played her shot to into the green finishing 3 feet from the hole. LaBauve was away, putted, and holed it… match over! A great match from both parties, but Steph obviously disappointed, but onlookers were very impressed by her style of play. I got matched up to play Haley Brown from Columbus Ohio. We had a great match, we were up and down all day, and the lead never got out to more than 1 up until the 15th hole. We went through 10, 11 and 13 halving the holes with birdies, so it was an exciting match. I was then lucky enough to hole a solid birdie putt on 15 to take the lead out to the biggest for the day with at 2 up. We then halved the next two holes and she gave the match to me 2&1. Overall, I was very happy proceeding to the next round! Then I faced the task of taking on number one qualifier, 14-year-old Dottie Ardina from the Philippines. She was very impressive! The front nine was very even, mostly just halving with pars and neither of us could really get anything going (yet I birdied the 8th to take a one shot lead into the back nine) before she started to turn things on a little. With birdies on four of the next five holes, I was unable to match this going to three down with four to play. I had one last shot at it by having a birdie on 15 to get it to two down with three to play but I was unable to get up and down after a poor approach on the par three 16th and conceded the match 3&2. Overall it was disappointing to go down but she was just far too good for me on the day. The week was a great learning experience, and I m sure both Steph and I will take a lot away from it.