Friday April 17, 2009
CARROLLTON, Ga. – Laura Coble of Augusta played 21 holes before defeating two-time defending champ Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale for her seventh-career victory at the Georgia Women’s Match Play Championship, which took place April 15-17 at Sunset Hills Country Club. Coble, whose last victory in the Women’s Match Play came in 2005, birdied the par-5 18th hole to force the sudden-death playoff.
Stackhouse, 15, hit 20 greens in regulation during the match but failed to connect on her approach to the 21st hole’s green and could not get up-and-down for par. After Coble lagged her birdie putt to within a foot, the hole and the match were conceded.
“I was so nervous all day today,” Coble said after the match’s conclusion. “[Stackhouse] is such a quality young lady and a great player. She’s going to win a lot of events in her career.”
Coble’s day began on a bright note, as she birdied her opening hole and took an early 1-up lead. Stackhouse answered on the par-3 second hole though, sinking a ten-foot birdie putt. After both players exchanged pars at holes three and four, Stackhouse won Nos. 5, 6 and 7 to turn the match in her favor. However, Coble bounced back making a nine-foot birdie on the eighth hole. After each carded par on number nine, Stackhouse led the match, 2-up, at the turn.
“It was hard being down at that point,” Coble explained about her position at the turn. “I knew that Mariah wasn’t going to make any mistakes so I just had to hang in there and try to scratch away at her lead every chance that I was given.”
Stackhouse opened the inward nine with a birdie to extend her lead on Coble but she fell victim to three-putts on holes 12, 13 and 16 to see her lead vanish. Stackhouse was able to settle down in her short game though and posted birdie on the 365-yard 17th. Heading to 18, both players drove their tee shots into the fairway. Coble was first to play her approach and her shot came to rest just off the back edge of the green. Stackhouse pulled her approach left and landed just short of the green-side hazard. Stackhouse chipped to the green and left herself a lengthy downhill putt for birdie. Coble connected on her birdie opportunity and Stackhouse slid her putt just right of the hole and the players headed to the first tee for the sudden-death playoff.