Shannon Hanley, backed by a lesson and a new putting stroke, successfully completed a run through the 71st Maryland State Women's Amateur championship yesterday, but victory did not come easily.
Hanley, who had been devastating earlier in the week, was not quite that sharp, as underdog Joan Lins took last year's losing finalist 15 holes before yielding, 4 and 3, at Rolling Road Golf Club.
Hanley, 23, and a 2 handicapper at Congressional, had qualified with a 1-over (women's) par 75, then was well under par in defeating three foes to reach the final.
In contrast, Lins, who has a 7 handicap at Turf Valley, qualified with an 81, and was over par in going extra holes twice and to the 17th green the other time to get to the final.
Hanley, who won the ninth to turn 1-up, took the 11th, 13th and 14th with a birdie and two pars, to be 4-up going to No. 15.
With the pin at the back of the 136-yard 15th, Hanley hit an 8-iron shot to 6 feet, and Lins bounced a 4-iron shot just in front of the green and the ball rolled to the back, 25 feet from the pin.
Her putt broke off to the right, and Hanley two-putted for par and the victory.
"A couple of holes I left putts short -- like the last one -- and that was critical," Lins said. "I had some chances, but in my position, I couldn't afford to give anything away.
"I messed up a couple of irons, too, but overall I'm satisfied. I think my experience helped. I was totally calm, with nothing to lose."
Hanley, who graduated from James Madison University in December, was given some focal points in her swing to work on by Columbia CC professional Bill Strausbaugh last winter.
A recent visit enabled the pro to take a look at her swing and a putting stroke she had changed two weeks ago. She'll need them, too, as ahead of her is U.S. Women's Amateur qualifying at Columbia CC on Tuesday, the championship if she makes it, and the LPGA qualifying school the end of August.
"He said he was impressed with my improvement and the consistency of my swing. He also liked the way I rolled it on the green," Hanley said.
Of the title round, she said: "It sounds trite, but I was playing the golf course. The opponent didn't matter.
"Actually, several of the [Rolling Road] members [notably Jim Meade and John Rezendes] helped me. They were around during a practice round, and Jim caddied for me in the other matches. They helped me with local knowledge."
For the 15 holes, Hanley was 1-over, and Lins, 6-over.
Lins, a former Women's Golf Association Seniors champion, put up a good fight. She was even through eight holes, lost 11 to a birdie, and halved the 12th with a birdie, before a missed putt and a poor iron shot proved costly at 13 and 14, respectively.