Championship matches should be close, and the 113th Utah Women’s State Amateur certainly fit the bill.
With top-seeded Kerstin Fotu and sixth-seeded Grace Summerhays squaring off for the title Thursday afternoon at the Logan Golf & Country Club, it went the full 18 holes. Fotu came out on top for a 1 up victory in a showdown of teenagers.
“It was a really tough match,” Fotu said. “I’m just glad I came out with the win. ... Winning this was definitely a goal of mine. It feels good.”
Neither golfer had played for the title before. However, Fotu had played at the Country Club back in 2012 when it last hosted the Women’s State Am as a preteen. The now 19-year-old from Highland has grown to like the course at the mouth of Logan Canyon.
“Playing on this course has been really nice,” Fotu said. “It got a little hot at the end today, but there was also a nice breeze.”
Before squaring off for the title, each had to win a semifinal match Thursday morning. Fotu edged Kyla Smith 2 up, while Summerhays beat Laura Gerner 5 and 3.
“She (Smith) played really well,” Fotu said. “I didn’t play as well. It was a good match.”
“Laura played amazing and really didn’t miss any shots on the front nine,” Summerhays said. “On the back nine I just got a little more hot, but she (Gerner) played awesome. It was a great match.”
Summerhays, who is 15 and calls Scottsdale, Arizona, home other than the summer when she comes north with her family to reside in Utah, has only played in the State Am one other time with the women, reaching match play but not advancing. This year she played with the men and now the women.
In the title match, both women halved the first three holes. Fotu, who never trailed in the match, took her first lead with a birdie on No. 4, while Summerhays got in some trouble and had a double bogey.
However, the younger teenager bounced back to win No. 6 and square the match. That would turn into a reoccurring theme.
“It was a really tight match, a heck of a match,” Fotu said. “She (Summerhays) was playing so good that I knew if I wanted to win some holes, I needed to make some birdies.”
“I thought we both played solid,” Summerhays said. “It wasn’t like we were giving each other holes. Every hole, someone earned it all day. It came down to who had the better short game. It was pretty even the whole match.”
Fotu did go 2 up after 11, but Summerhays birdied No. 12 to get back within a hole. It happened again on No. 15 and 16. Fotu took 15, while Summerhays answered with a long drive and sand shot to end up with a birdie on 16.
“I was trying to breath and relax on 16, because if I win that hole, I close it out,” Fotu said. “Then she ended up winning the hole and I was like, ‘oh dang.’ I was back on my toes again. It shows how good of a player she is and she keeps fighting.”
Did Summerhays feel some pressure after going down two holes late in the match?
“Not really, but on 16 I took driver just because I was down and bunker game is a strength,” Summerhays said. “So I figured if I hit it in the bunker, I would have a 60 to 70 percent chance of getting that up and down.”
Which she did. Summerhays would have like to have hit her drive a bit closer on No. 17, but was still able to get a birdie. But so did Fotu, so the hole was halved.
On 18, they both ended up with pars to end the match.
“The last two holes I knew I just needed to match what she did,” Foto said. “I knew I needed to tie her.”
“I think I played solid, she (Fotu) just got some great up and downs,” Summerhays said. “I just missed a couple of putts that needed to drop. It was an amazing match.”
Fotu will now turn her attention to playing at BYU.
Next up for Summerhays is the Nike Invitational in North Carolina in two weeks.