Mallory Crosland took the lead on the first hole and never relinquished it, holding off a relentless bid by Connie Pifer for the 77th Maryland State Women's Amateur championship at Woodholme Country Club yesterday.
In successfully defending her title, Crosland, who has won 11 of her past 12 matches in this tournament, became the first to win successive crowns since Jane Fitzgerald in 1989-90.
One shot may have changed the match. Crosland, 3-up at the turn, three-putted to lose the 10th, and with two consecutive par-5's in front of her, Pifer, making her best showing in 15 years of playing in the event, was looking at chances to slice into the lead.
At the 11th however, hitting from the left rough, Pifer put her second shot out of bounds by 18 inches. It wound up costing her the hole, and, as she said, "That just killed me."
It loomed large when Pifer, who plays from Hunt Valley and works in the golf shop at Baltimore CC, drained a 30-foot putt for a winning birdie at the 12th.
Crosland, from Bethesda and the Chevy Chase Club, restored the 3-up margin with a par at the 14th; Pifer won 15 with a par, and Crosland closed out the match with a winning par at the 16th.
"I just knew I had to be patient," said Crosland, 20, a senior at Vanderbilt, where she has 4.0 grade-point average in economics and is on the golf team.
"Yesterday [Thursday], I was down in both my matches and came back. Here, I won the first hole for the first time in my four matches. It was nice to be up and not have to fight back, nice not to have the pressure on me."
It was certainly on Pifer.
Crosland reached every fairway and eight of nine greens in building her 3-up margin on the front side. On the back, she hit every fairway but one, and all but one green. As it developed, the two greens she missed were two of the four holes she lost in the match.
Pifer, 35, who has played some outstanding golf this summer, including a victory at the women's invitation tournament at Green Hill Yacht & CC, consistently found herself having to try and make putts in the 5- to 8-foot range for pars.
"I got behind, and it seemed no matter what I did, I couldn't get even," she said.
Todd Pratt unleashed a 355-yard drive at the 450-yard par-4 10th hole, and the ensuing par was enough to give him and his father, Jim, a one-hole playoff victory in the annual championship of the Middle Atlantic Golf Association at Chartwell Country Club. The winners were one of four teams to shoot 4-under-par 68.
Sam Insley nipped Chris Emerick, 1 up, and Carlie Gordon edged Christina Haynes, 1 up, to win the boys and girls 15-17 divisions, respectively, at Hunt Valley GC.