Smith falls in marathon match

Defending champ Emerson ousts FCHS grad in 20-hole semifinal

By Linda Younkin Published:

LEXINGTON — Eighteen holes just weren’t enough to decide a winner.

Abby Smith of Frankfort went 20 holes in her semifinal match of the Women’s Kentucky State Amateur Thursday afternoon at Lakeside Golf Course before losing to defending champion April Emerson in sudden death.

Emerson tied the match with a birdie putt at No. 18, sending the match to extra holes.

Emerson played Lydia Gumm this morning in the championship flight final. Gumm’s semifinal match with Ellen Kehoe also went 20 holes.

“I was one up going into 18,” Smith said. “On 16 I missed a short putt to win the hole. Winning 16 would have been good. I’d have gone into 17 two up, and she would have had to win that hole to keep the match going.

“I’m disappointed I missed that putt, but my putting was not very good today. I didn’t make any of the longer putts I needed for birdies.”

But Smith did have some birdies that played a big part in her semifinal match.

Emerson won the first two holes of the match, going 2 up, but Smith birdied 8 and 9 to win the holes and pull even at the turn.

She won the 10th hole, too, to go ahead 1 up, and that’s how the score stayed until No. 18.

“I won 10 with a par from behind the tree,” Smith said. “Those three holes I won in a row are where I made my run. It’s not good being down starting off the match.”

Smith had a chance at an eagle at No. 8 but took a birdie.

“It was fun,” she said about the match, “but it was nerve racking going to a playoff. I was definitely nervous.”

The semifinal match was Smith’s second of the day. She faced Candice Wiley in the quarterfinals Thursday morning and won the match 3 and 1.

“That match was close all the way through,” Smith said. “It went 17 holes, and I won with a birdie putt.

“I played pretty well, but I didn’t make as many putts as I normally do. My putting was definitely off.”

This was Smith’s sixth appearance in the State Am and the farthest she’s ever advanced in the event.

“My goal next year is to be in the finals,” she said. “Once you get to the semifinals they’re going to be close matches. We’re all good golfers, and we’re all competitive.”

Emerson, who won the State Am in 2009, 2011 and 2013, played golf at Eastern Kentucky University and graduated from EKU last year.

Smith and Gumm both play collegiate golf. Smith, a graduate of Franklin County High School, will be a senior at Xavier University, and Gumm will be a junior at Florida State University.

Kehoe, who holds the women’s course record at Lakeside with a nine-under par 64, will be a senior at Taylor County High School.

Jean Vickers of Frankfort won the Second Flight of the State Am, defeating Roz Tender 1 up in the championship match Thursday.

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