Carolina Women's Am: Late flourish lifts defending champ Higgins

May. 23, 2013 @ 08:51 PM

Down one stroke entering the final round of the 87th Carolinas Women’s Amateur golf championship, things didn’t trend well for Katie Rose Higgins early Thursday.

Undaunted, she stayed steady until finishing with a flourish.

After second-round leader Kathryn Miranda birdied her first two holes to take a three-shot lead at Treyburn Country Club, Higgins recorded five birdies in her final 12 holes to rally and win her second consecutive Carolinas Women’s Amateur title.

A former University of South Carolina golfer from Charleston, S.C., Higgins finished with a three-day total of 213 on the par-72 Treyburn course. That left Higgins at 3 under par, the only golfer to break par for the entire tournament.

“Last year I was leading into the last day and this year I had some ground to make up,” Higgins said. “To do it both ways means a lot. This is a great tournament and a great way to kick off my summer. I’m really thrilled and happy.”

Miranda, a golfer from Lexington, S.C., who plays at College of Charleston, took a 1-shot lead over Higgins and Bahama’s Meghan Moore into the final round. But, even after her fast start, Miranda shot 1-over for the day to finish at even-par 216 for the tournament.

“I just didn’t quite hit it solid and didn’t make many up and downs,” Miranda said. “But I made a couple of birdies on the back nine. Overall, though, it was a very solid round. I was very pleased and happy.”

Moore, from Northern High School and UNC-Pembroke, saw her chances for the tournament championship disappear on her front nine Thursday. She bogeyed Nos. 3 and 8 while posting a double-bogey on No. 6 to finish at 4-over 40 on the front.

Moore scored two birdies on her back nine, but couldn’t overcome the rough start. She finished 3-over for the tournament which left her in third place, six strokes behind Higgins.

“I hit a few bad tee balls and iron shots that cost me a little bit,” Moore said. “I tried to hang in there because I knew there would be some birdie holes. But unfortunately it wasn’t good enough.”

Higgins started her round with six consecutive pars before hitting a birdie on No. 7. She gave back that stroke on No. 9, recording a bogey, and headed to the final nine holes even with Miranda for the tournament.

“At first I was a little concerned because I wasn’t hitting great to start out with and Kathryn birdied the first two holes,” Higgins said. “So I was already down three shots. I had in my mind all day that I wanted to get to 4-under. I figured 4-under would win it. So I just thought there were a lot of holes left and I tried to stay patient and not worry about the other people.”

Hole No. 10 proved to the difference-maker for the tournament.

Miranda, after a strong drive, had a poor wedge shot to leave her ball short of the green. Her chip was on line but rolled past the hole and she bogeyed the par-4 306-yard hole.

Higgins, meanwhile, also misfired on her wedge shot and faced a long birdie putt. But she sank it to move in front by two strokes.

“I hit a bad wedge shot on 10 but I decided to take it positively and say `I’m going to make this putt’ even though I didn’t even know how long it was,” Higgins said. “I ended up draining it. That kind of got momentum going my way and I felt a little better.”

Higgins extended her lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 11. Birdies on the back nine’s two par 3s, No. 13 and No. 17, pushed her overall lead to four strokes.

She two-putted on No. 18, finishing with a bogey, but that didn’t keep her from winning another championship.

In the Carolinas Tees Division, which plays a shorter course, Melissa Sage of Charlotte won the championship over Sook Hee Yang of Jamestown. They tied at 239 but Sage won a scorecard playoff.

Hillsborough’s Carole Jones was third in the division, seven shots behind Sage and Yang. But that score earned Jones her fourth consecutive Super Seniors title.