Women's Am takes a northerly turn

Saturday , August 09, 2014 - 6:55 AM

Jim Burton

OGDEN – As if it didn’t already have a uniquely Top-of-Utah feel to it, the 2014 Utah Women’s State Amateur golf championship took a northerly turn Friday afternoon at the 100-year-old Ogden Golf and Country Club. That’s when three of the final four matches were won by women with ties to this part of the state.

Weber State junior Emily Podlesny highlighted the day by winning two matches in come-from-behind fashion. She topped Kendra Dalton in the morning and defending champ Kelsey Chugg – herself a former WSU star – in the afternoon.

Podlesny, who works in the OGCC’s pro shop, came from 4-down in her morning match, eventually winning it 1-up thanks in large part to consecutive victories on holes 9 through 12.

In all, she birdied twice on the back nine and notched a critical par on the par-3 15th.

A first-time participant in the women’s state am, Podlesny will face fellow Wildcat Alli Cluff in Saturday’s first semifinal.

Cluff, also an OGCC employee, beat WSU teammate Kristie Jensen 1-up in the morning, then nabbed a 1-up victory over tournament veteran Sadie Palmer in the afternoon.

Cluff and Podlesny will square off in the first semifinal at 7:30 Saturday morning. The other semifinal, which features former Bonneville High School standout – and current BYU Cougar – Lea Garner against South Jordan’s Sirene Blair, will go off at 7:45 a.m.

Standing just off the 18th green, moments after her victory over Chugg, Podlesny couldn’t seem to get the smile off her face.

“It was pretty fun,” she said.

Asked if the day’s excitement had even begun to sink in, she responded happily, as if she were in no hurry to come down from her lofty emotional perch.

“No, not yet,” she said, still smiling.

And who could blame her? After all, it’s not every day a golfer, playing in her first state am, rebounds from such major deficits. Rarely does anyone come back from being down four holes in match play competition, but Podlesny did just that after Dalton, a BYU freshman, won four of the first five holes to open the match.

Podlesney won the 6th hole with a par then did it again with another par on No. 9. She followed that up with a birdie on 10, a par on 11 and another birdie on 12.

Podlesny said she didn’t get down on herself even when she fell behind early because she was hitting good shots; she just needed to catch a break. The birdie on 10 – a long par-4 with a nasty uphill approach – kick-started her comeback.

Later, in her afternoon match, Podlesny was 3-down to Chugg and facing a similar situation. Again, she responded well, birding Nos. 10, 11 and 12.

Having already come back from a big deficit in the morning, she knew she capable of doing it again in the afternoon, even against a player with Chuggs’ skills.

“I just had to stay tough,” she said.

Understandably, Chugg was down after the match. She said she got a little tired on the back nine, but gave credit to Podlesny for earning the win.

True to her Weber State roots, Chugg admitted losing to a fellow Wildcat didn’t make her feel any better. Still, said she was looking forward to seeing Podlesny and Cluff play in the semifinal.

“It’s great. It shows Weber really has a lot of talent,” she said. “Sometimes they’re underestimated or underappreciated but (the talent is there).”

Garner won her morning match by beating Brooklyn Anderson in the round of 16 and Kimberly Nyhus in the afternoon.

Blair, who beat Ogden High standout Xena Motes in the morning matches, outlasted Tara Green in the afternoon.

Green, a North Ogden resident who plays collegiately at Montana, fought hard to win her morning match over BYU’s Annie Yang. In the afternoon, the former state am finalist put up a stellar fight against Blair, eventually losing 1-down on the 18th hole.

Contact reporter Jim Burton at jburton@standard.net or on Twitter @StandardExJimbo.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.

Get the Standard-Examiner Advantage.