It wasn't simply that Sarah LeBrun Ingram of Nashville, Tenn., won the fifth-annual United States Women's Mid-Amateur championship yesterday in Scottsdale, Ariz.; it was the way she did it.
Ingram, a former Owings Mills resident and still a member of the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, won the first two holes and went on to overwhelm former champion Martha Lang of Geneva, Ill., 6 and 5, in a scheduled 18-hole final at the Desert Highlands Golf Club.
The number 13 turned out to be lucky for Ingram, as she lost only one hole, and was 5-under for the necessary 13 holes. Later, she had a fitting memento of her triumph in hand, the flag off the flagstick from the 13th green.
"She was just hitting it so pure. She was fantastic," said Lang, 38, the winner in 1988.
Ingram, 25, was in her first year of eligibility for the tournament.
"I feel good, really excited," she said of her first United States Golf Association title, "but, truthfully, it hasn't hit me yet."
Ingram started with a 12-foot birdie putt on the first hole, and Lang conceded a birdie to her on the second. Ingram's lead dropped back to one when she had her only bad hole, at the fifth. She hooked her drive, took an unplayable after her next shot found trees and eventually conceded the hole.
After halving the sixth in birdies (Lang chipped in), Ingram won the seventh with an 11-foot birdie putt, after Lang missed from 14 feet; the eighth with a 3-foot birdie putt, when Lang missed the green at the par-4 test; and the ninth, when Lang missed a 2 1/2 -foot putt for a half.
Lang, 4-down, got another reminder that it wasn't her day when she hit a 130-yard second shot to 8 feet at the 10th, and could get only a half when she rolled in the birdie putt. From 110 yards, Ingram hit a pitching wedge to 10 inches.
They halved the 11th with pars, but it turned out to be the calm before the closing storm. Ingram won the par-3 12th with two putts from 16 feet when Lang three-putted from 40 feet. Ingram ended the match in championship fashion, making a 30-foot pitch shot after missing the green long and to the right.
"Timing was the key for me," Ingram said. "The strongest part of my game was the driving -- I used my 3-wood a lot -- and I putted well.
"It was a team effort, though. My caddie [Matt Bailey, an assistant professional at nearby Troon Golf Club] was great. He kept me loose out there. He took care of me."
Said Lang: "A couple of three-putts hurt me. I had putted well up to this round, too. The miss at No. 9 was just another nail in the coffin."
The closest of Ingram's six matches in her march to the title came in Monday's opening round, when she birdied the 16th and 18th holes (212-yard 4-wood shot to 15 feet and two putts) to carry defending champion Carol Semple Thompson to overtime. At the third extra hole, Ingram hit an 8-iron within 4 1/2 feet and ended it with a birdie putt.